Album Review: Set It Off – ‘Upside Down’

Two years ago, Floridian band Set It Off released their highly-acclaimed sophomore record Duality and that album polished and defined the sound progression of the outfit. There were dark elements that thrived among the four-piece, showing a charismatic energy towards their music, while still maintaining the status of using orchestral elements cleverly used in their material.

With their third album Upside Down coming out a little over two weeks ago, the four-piece have flourished into a deeper motion with the Pop genre and have cultivated something that suits the airwaves of the radio. With media outlets like Rocksound and Alternative Press reporting Set It Off as one of those bands in the Alternative scene, Set It Off’s diversity in sound has paved a path for them to become big one day, with their bursting pop dynamics and heartfelt material.

sio-upsidedown-cover_1500x1500Although the record itself has its moments of being bubbly and happy, there are darker moments in the album that make Upside Down an enjoyable listen. Songs like, “Something New” and “Upside Down” are catchy as hell but lack those loud orchestral elements that were shown in their sophomore offering of Duality. With Duality, they were more fierce and had the attitude with their music but with Upside Down, all of those qualities seemed to have faded away. There’s nothing wrong with going from a rock to a completely pop sound but the energy that was so contagious in Duality is something old listeners might miss when hearing the material from Upside Down.

Even though this is the case, there’s definitely some maturity progression in the lyrical content. Songs like, “Crutch” and “Me W/O Us” has that melancholic edge to Set It Off, being emotionally captivating and raw in the essence of the band’s solid musicianship. It’s real and it doesn’t take away from the fact that although they’ve used pop and RnB elements to their music, the lyrics are still well-defined and visionary. Even though the songs flow well, the record in its entirety feels weak and less hard-hitting compared to their older material. Considering the challenges the band had to face last year, all of their personal experiences and how they felt at the time when making this record might have impacted the sound direction of this record, but despite this, the chemistry in their music still remains.

Regardless of the fact that Upside Down feels like they’ve held back their powerful instrumentation, it is cohesive and justifies the music direction the band is working towards. Think of bands like Twenty One Pilots, Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy that have reached mainstream success. With Set It Off, it’s safe to say they’ll reach their break somehow if they pursue this pop and RnB progression even further, making one song light up thousands of listeners within a few seconds. That’s when they’ll finally take charge of steering the wheel.

Overall, Upside Down makes for a decent listen but doesn’t scratch the surface of the incredible potential Set It Off have to break the market of mainstream listening. But it does maintain the chemistry and the honesty of lyrics Set It Off fans have grown to love. Still showing a glimmer of their roots, you can best bet that Upside Down evolves and embraces those pop elements while also showing some maturity progression in their lyrical content. Is Upside Down their best album yet? Probably not, but Set It Off fans should remain hopeful for what the band cooks up next.

Upside Down is out now via Equal Vision Records 

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