ARTIST: SET IT OFF
LABEL: FEARLESS RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
Working together for just slightly over a decade, Florida alternative act Set It Off are still dedicated to bringing the power of punk to the masses through their naturally evolving and maturing music. Specialising in a genre that many bands of the rock and punk scenes seem to be steering into within the latter half of the 2010s, it can be tricky to try and stay memorable as more and more bands are choosing to take inspiration from each other and ease themselves into a more pop-punk, bouncy style – that or throw themselves into the deep end of the movement. For Set It Off, they had solidified this sound with their previous albums such as 2014’s ‘Duality’.
‘Midnight’ takes a natural step forward from their previous release, the 2016 studio album ‘Upside Down’. They first gave fans a sneak peek of the album with their first single in July of 2018, entitled ‘Killer in the Mirror’, which is fittingly the first track on the record’s listing.
“It sticks to that alternative sound that the group are known to excel at creating; after three powerful albums, it shows that ‘Midnight’ is continuing their pattern near perfectly..”
‘Killer in the Mirror’ starts the record off not too hard, not too heavy nor strong; it sets the overall tone for the rest of the track listing. A song that hints towards self-sabotage and coming from the perspective of a personified lack of trust, ‘Killer in the Mirror’ builds up throughout the first chorus and it seems to reflect this song’s themes, if unintentionally. As if the music doubled as the negative thoughts and the fears of being judgemental and untrustworthy of the world and the people in it. It sticks to that alternative sound that the group are known to excel at creating; after three powerful albums, it shows that ‘Midnight’ is continuing their pattern near perfectly.
Another track on the album, also released prior to the album’s own release, is the wonderfully different ‘Lonely Dance’. A song that has quite a contrasting sound and style, standing more on the pop side rather than punk, which in all honesty can be a risky game for an alternative group. Lead vocalist Cody Carson has a chance to show his vocal versatility in this track, along with the band on switching up their brand of pop-punk and giving fans what may not be expected, and newer fans a pleasant shock.
Being a song that is expectedly about one’s loneliness in life, and becoming content with the lifestyle of being lonesome, it comes across as a great contender for mainstream success. Many punk kids’ dream is for punk and alternative to become the mainstream again; and whilst it has had a slight resurrection in recent times, it’s still not how it once was. Maybe Set It Off can make a difference; bring punk back to the mainstream and expand their audience while they are at it – a win-win situation for the whole music world.
“For Set It Off, ‘Midnight’ shows a sense of renewal and a readiness to bring back punk in their own unique way.”
The most notable track from ‘Midnight’ would be the latest track released, ‘Midnight Thoughts’. Set It Off brought in 2019 by releasing the tune appropriately at midnight on 1st January, and it was a fitting date as it plays as a true party song for the right party, on the right night. Beginning with Carson’s vocals and guitar strums, the power hits in the chorus and the track becomes more upbeat and catchy; nearly an instant hit. A dramatic feel is also mixed into the combination with the inclusion of classical stringed instruments throughout the second half of the track; and listeners always love some memorable drama in a track.
Overall, if this is the direction the band are going to continue working into, the future is theirs. After a decade, if it is fitting to do so for a group, changing and evolving a sound is how both a band’s music stays fresh and how each member stays motivated and dedicated to their art. For Set It Off, ‘Midnight’ shows a sense of renewal and a readiness to bring back punk in their own unique way. Maybe it’s the wish to come into the mainstream; maybe it’s the influence of new label Fearless Records; either way, it feels natural and that feeling is the easiest giveaway that art is doing what art does best: it makes an impact.