Album Review – Set It Off, “Duality”

set-it-offI fear it has been too long since I posted here. Obviously, I will need something quite enticing to gain back my audience. To those loyal viewers who stayed in my absence, you sure are in for a treat.

Meet Set It Off, a Tampa, Florida-based rock/punk group who have been making music for about 7 years now. The band is known for frequenting Vans Warped Tour, even this year when I am extremely underwhelmed by the lineup otherwise. Originally, this article was going to be an “Artist Recommendation” page. That was, until I realized I could not pick a few individual songs I liked above the rest and that this would be my new favorite band. Every song is unique, and while Set It Off have a track record of good music, Duality is their greatest feat yet.

So what makes this album so incredible, that I waited this long to share it? Well, the only way I can explain that is if I break it down track-by-track:

1. “The Haunting” – Even though “The Haunting” was not the first impression that I was given of the band, it definitely helped me decide on whether or not I would dive into this album. While cruising about 35,000 feet in the air, my overpriced and crappy plane wifi allowed me the signal to get through one song on this album: This one. After being impressed by the introduction, and recognizing a couple of other good songs, I decided I would save this LP for later listening. I am sure glad I did, as “The Haunting” has the angry, passionate tone that plenty of the album has to offer, which appealed to me. It is a great example of what to expect, though each song is given its unique style to set it apart.

9.25/10

2. “N.M.E.” – When I heard the first thirty-or-so seconds of this song, I began to reminisce about pre-hiatus Fall Out Boy. Then, at this moment, I realized that I liked this band even more. The production on this song is diverse and I love the many instrumentals that go into making this piece so enjoyable. It has a similar tone to the previous song, but a hook that I find easier to pick up and an even better rhythm to it.

9.5/10

3. “Forever Stuck In Our Youth” – Despite not being able to keep up some of the words, I still find myself blurting out this song all of the time. The pacing is excellent and the lyrics make this an awesome love song. I was a bit bummed out that the bridge is basically just a repetition of the hook, when this band has already proved that they have mastered this section of the song anatomy.

8.75/10

4. “Why Worry” – This was the first solo Set It Off song I heard, and introduced me to the style of the band’s sound. It is one of their more popular singles, with good reason. The rhythm to the song is strangely likable despite being a bit odd, and the tone combines joy and angst in the perfect way. I have a knack for lyrics that address the listener in a way that feels personal, and this song does that quite well. “Why Worry” also features a solid bridge and great transition into the final couplet of choruses.

9/10

5. “Ancient History” – “Ancient History” was the second song that introduced me to this band, and ultimately what made me begin to love them. The song has a flavor of pop but has an aura of emotion that makes it interesting. The chorus is short but easy to pick up and enjoy. Then the bridge comes in, and the whole feel of the song shifts. It really is remarkable how well this group can transition back and forth, and this is a prime example of it. Also, that guitar riff before it just makes me smile every time.

9.5/10

6. “Bleak December” – “Bleak December” is exactly what the title suggest: bleak and cold. The band goes back to its angry, bitter post-breakup attitude and acts like it never left. The song gets a bit more explicit, but the lyricism does not suffer from this. You can feel the high levels of “done” that the song portrays with whoever this lady is, and the calmer, more collected bridge affirms this attitude of wiping their hands of her.

9.75/10

7. “Duality” – As we reach the title track, we look back and start to see how much the album has made each song unique and intriguing to hear more. “Duality” only provides another example of that, as the production is some of the album’s best. The hook is long but finds itself stuck in your head with a simple brain-washing “Do-do-do-do-do” repeated a number of times. Of course, it is followed by another excellent bridge that gives the song’s style a bit of a darker feel.

9.25/10

8. “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (ft. William Beckett)” – “Ba-Ba Black Sheep, have you any soul?” I wonder if this album is aimed at one girl, or if the band has just been screwed by so many devilish women? Regardless, this song is everything you would expect. More bitter feelings, but it does it with great analogies and an absolutely amazing chorus. The bridge sticks to the song’s original pace but switches up to some lyrics that are, well, not so friendly. I’m surprised this girl is “sleeping easy” after hearing these lyrics, but who doesn’t love a great breakup song about karma and deceitful women?

9/10

9. “Tomorrow (ft. Jason Lancaster)” – More Fall Out Boy vibes come forth in “Tomorrow”. I never said I didn’t like it, though. It is refreshing to get some optimism from the band after a couple of less smiley pieces, and while the song is Pop-y, it has a serious taste of Rock and loner-love Punk. Jason Lancaster shows that Set It Off aren’t the only ones who can make a great bridge as well.

9/10

10. “Bad Guy” – Something about this song feels a bit generic, but I still do enjoy it. I love the various sounds of the song and the pacing. The sound of “Bad Guy” gives the feeling that the album is coming to a close as it slows things down to close out. Not a whole lot to say about this one though, I enjoy it but compared to its predecessors it just feels a bit slow.

8.25/10

11. “Miss Mysterious” – If so some reason you decide not to listen to the whole album, make sure you go out of your way to listen to this one. The flow of it is elegant, the lyrics are inspiring and the meaning is very reflective. The song closes out the album perfectly, as it is literally a perfect song. The rhythm reminds me of “Drops Of Jupiter” and the meaning strikes comparisons to “What If”. These are both favorites of mine, so it is no wonder that this song is just beautiful to me.

10/10

So overall, the album averages out to about:

9.25/10

Duality is one of my favorite, if not the #1, albums I have ever heard. Each song is unique and enjoyable, and the 37 minutes it takes up is perfect for a shorter attention span like mine. I could give this whole album a perfect 10/10, but I know that no band will ever be that perfect. However, Set It Off comes damn close to being that. I honestly cannot wait to hear more from these guys, whether it be through their next album or live.

I highly recommend you listen to the full album, but if unable I would give the songs at 9.5 or over a chance. Stream it in full below and/or purchase it on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/duality/id911196612

Give the album some love on Spotify below:

P.S. – Did you miss me?

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Music Recommendation – Multiple – Fall Out Boy, “Irresistible”; “Jet Pack Blues”; “Novacaine”; “The Kids Aren’t Alright”

fall-out-boy-2015I am going to be honest: I have never been a big fan of Fall Out Boy. I felt I gave their music a fighting chance for a while, and they just continually disappointed me. I could not see any appeal whatsoever. Writing for the website that I do, I run into Rock music quite a bit. Therefore, I write about Fall Out Boy about as often as Miley Cyrus posts a new picture of her nipple from a different angle: At least once a week, depending on how slow of a newsweek it is.

Wanting to branch out and listen to something different, I gave Fall Out Boy’s recent singles a chance. “Centuries” hardly did the trick, but “Irresistible” was worth noting. Then, just yesterday, the group released two new singles: “Novacaine” and, my new favorite song, “Jet Pack Blues”. So let’s break down my three favorite Fall Out Boy songs out there since some of their much earlier works below:

1. “Irresistible” – The epic brass intro leads into an immediately big first verse. This worried me that the chorus would explode to the point of being annoying, but the drop on the hook and build-up in the chorus makes for perfect pacing. I definitely felt after hearing this song that Fall Out Boy was moving in the right direction. Patrick Stump’s voice cracks a bit and sounds like it was pitched by my grandma, but Stump does manage to keep a quick speed in his lyrics and hardly gets a chance to breathe it seems. Production has a huge role in making “Irresistible” enjoyable and the final result is a good song.

8.75/10

2. “Jet Pack Blues” – Meet my new favorite song. The first stanza is the perfect speed lyrically, and has some great quotable lines. The chorus explodes into a big and easy-to-pick-up few seconds until it goes into the next short verse. The song is simple when it needs to be but has a complexity to its subject and tone. The bridge has a retro-guitar feel to it for a brief shining moment, but then gets just a bit too repetitive for me. Regardless, it became my favorite song and is some of the best I have ever heard by Fall Out Boy.

9.75/10

3. “Novacaine” – “Novacaine” does not compare very much to the first two in appeal, but it is a perfect loud Rock track. It gets chanty (which I can’t say I love), it relies heavily on guitar and bass, and is defiant like the teenagers listening to Fall Out Boy. The hook is intriguing and leads into a hair-flipping guitarplayer-pretending chorus. The bridge bothers me quite a bit because of the chanting and backup, but does not last longer than it needs to. “Novacaine” might not be the best song on the album, but it has a fun quality to it that is great for getting pumped up or just blasting some loud Rock in your earholes.

7/10

4. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” – I do not know what happened to the kids to make them not alright, but last time I checked Kesha had otherwise to say. While this one may not be as good as the first two, I do like the vocal pacing and the hook leading into the chorus. While this song is a bit more low-key (at least for Fall Out Boy), it still retains an entertaining nature to it. The whistling after the chorus probably bothers me the most, and the feeling of “ugh, get on with it” in the first verse. The second verse is paced much better, however. This is another solid FOB song that features some serious lyricism.

8/10

So there they are, my favorites on Fall Out Boy’s upcoming album American Beauty/America Psycho. It comes out on January 20, and I have all of this memorized I have to type it out a lot. But hey, at least I am stuck with a good band to write about. I hope that Fall Out Boy continues in this direction and make music that stays modern while indulging in the juicy sound that the group previously had in the mid-late 2000’s.

So which was your favorite song in my recommendations above?

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