Set It Off originated as a pop band then moved into the genre of pop rock for many of the records, specifically Horrible Kids and Cinematics. They then changed to be a bit more pop on Duality, while still holding their ground as a rock band. This is the sound that Set It Off is, except with their new album, Upside Down, things have changed. This album is very much on the pop side of the pop rock genre and there are mixed reviews. This is not the direction they should have went; after all they really shine in the rock sound.
“Something New:” It’s a nice introduction to the album, it sounds like it would belong on Duality. The drums on this track shine the most though, even though the other rock elements are toned down. Also, they added a trumpet to many songs on this record and it works well on this song specifically. It adds a new dynamic and expands their genre, similarity to Yellowcard because they have a violinist. The beginning of the album has a consistent theme of optimism and this song exemplifies this well.
“Uncontainable:” The most “rock” song on the record, which is extremely disappointing. It sounds the most like old Set It Off, but it’s sad that there are only two songs that really feel like them. The theme of this one is very similar to “Something New,” and is a perfect song to pump up anyone and get them off their feet.
“I’m taking the crown, I’m taking it now, we never look back we’re uncontainable.”
“Life Afraid:” Once the album hit this song, it was disappointing. This song started the major transition of the album to ‘pop.’ Listeners who are fans of this kind of sound will probably enjoy it, but it’s not the sound many fans of Set It Off’s older songs are like.
“Want:” This song is a step up from “Life Afraid” and the not so stand out title track, “Upside Down.” The drums are back to what Maxx Danziger does best, playing drums to a rock song. It’s unfortunate that for most of the songs the band had him play such simple pop genre sets. Vocalist, Cody Carson, sounds much better on this song. He sounds more emotional and the listener can understand that this song has some meaning to him. His vocal range is shown off too, specifically his range for high notes.
“Diamond Girl:” Another song that they added the trumpet into the chorus, but it does not work as well as it did it “Something New.” It would sound better if they had added a guitar instead, since the trumpet interrupts Carson’s vocals. Most of the lyrics on this album are also very simple and not the complex writing that Carson is capable of. This song is the most lyrical complex though. There are metaphors through the whole thing, which is refreshing for this record.
“You’re a one of a kind fixed in gold…You were a gem lost in the rough.”
“Admit It:” From this song and on, the themes get more intense and there is more emotional poured into the lyrics and even in Carson’s vocals. In many of their previous records, Carson constantly sang about someone he disliked, some can even say hated, and this is continued with this song and some after.
“Just admit you dug your own grave and now you’re buried.”
“Hypnotized:” As for the emotion in Carson’s voice, it is shown off the most in “Hypnotized.” At some points it sounds like he’s rapping and the listener can hear his anger, it’s so prominent that this is the most aggressive song. He clearly has some built up frustration with someone and that is clearly presented in this track.
“I heard you been lyin’ and tryin’ to shit on my name talkin’ behind my back.”
“Me W/O Us:” It was nice to hear the band choose to wrap up the album with an acoustic song, but it sounds too much like it belongs on the radio. The chorus specifically reminds me of a Justin Bieber song. It’s pretty and has a beautiful meaning, but more was to be expected from Set It Off.
Depending on what sound you prefer from Set It Off affects whether or not you’ll enjoy this record. It can be clearly stated that fans of the old rock side of them will not choose to purchase or even listen to this album. The song writing is mediocre, with the exception of some songs, the sound is too ‘pop’ and not enough rock and it sounds like it could be so much better. Especially since they have been working on it for so long.