Set It Off’s Latest LP Boasts More Upsides Than Down

January 23, 2017 by: admin

Courtesy: Equal Vision Records

By Philip Sayblack

This coming March, Set It Off will perform live in North Carolina’s “Queen City” as support for Simple Plan’s 15th Anniversary Tour.  The bands will perform live at The Fillmore Charlotte on Wednesday, March 22nd.  While Set It Off is acting as direct support on the tour, that doesn’t lessen the importance of its performance.  That is because the band is currently touring in support of its latest full-length studio release, Upside Down.  The band’s third full-length studio recording, Upside Down was released last October via Equal Vision Records.  It is a stark departure for the band both in terms of its musical arrangements and its lyrical themes.  Both elements are key pieces of the record’s overall presentation.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements.  Each element is important in its own right to the record’s overall presentation.  All things considered, Upside Down offers far more upsides than down.

Set It Off’s third full-length studio recording Upside Down was a big risk for the band.  That is because it is such a stark departure for the band in comparison to its previous two albums and its previous EPs. In examining the album in whole it proves to be a risk that was worth taking.  The record’s arrangements clearly support that statement.  Gone are the heavy, angsty, guitar-driven arrangements presented in the band’s previous offerings.  They have been replaced here with arrangements that prove to be far more accessible to mainstream audiences than those aforementioned arrangements.  The arrangement presented in the record’s title track is a prime example of that more commercial, mainstream sound.  The keyboard-driven composition is more akin to something audiences might hear from Maroon 5, Andy Grammar and others of that ilk than the Fall Out Boy, etc. sound for which it has been known.  ‘Diamond Girl,’ with its blatantly 80s-influenced sound—more specifically Richard Marx influenced—the band exhibits once again just how far it has departed from its previous sound this time out.  ‘Admit It’ is one more clear example of the importance of this record’s arrangements.  This song presents a blatantly Top 40, pop-centric arrangement that can easily be compared to so many of today’s top pop acts.  It is hardly the last song that could be cited in explaining the importance of the record’s arrangements.  The arrangement presented in ‘Life Afraid’ is another keyboard-driven composition that would be a perfect fit for any club.  The hip-hop arrangement at the center of ‘Hypnotized’ stands on its own merits, too.  Between that arrangement and all of the others noted here, it becomes clear just how important the arrangements presented in Upside Down are to its overall presentation.  They prove that while they do make the record a stark stylistic departure from the band’s past records, that risk paid off tenfold.

The arrangements that are presented in Set It Off’s latest full-length studio recording present a sound that is a stark departure for the band from its previous records.  That includes its EPs and full-length studio recordings.  They present sounds that are far more accessible to mainstream audiences than those in the band’s previous records.  As important as this record’s arrangements are to its presentation, they are not the only stark departures present in this record.  The lyrical themes presented throughout the album stand out just as much from their predecessors as the record’s musical arrangements.  ‘Uncontainable’ is a clear example of how different the record’s lyrical themes are in comparison to those of the band’s previous albums.  This song’s lyrical content presents a very positive message to audiences about standing tall and proud.  It tells listeners to not let anyone or anything hold one down.  ‘Admit It’ is another one of those songs (or at least seems to be) that is centered on a broken relationship.  That is nothing new for the band.  What is different here is the approach that the band has taken with its lyrical content.  Rather than being one of those angry pieces so common on the band’s previous records, it is more a standard breakup piece.  It sounds just like something—some will hate this critic for this—that any of today’s Top 40 acts would churn out, pointing fingers about a breakup.  ‘Never Know,’ with its positive message about taking risks is a perfect illustration of the risk taken by the band here.  It also serves to motivate listeners to take their own choices even despite naysayers who might try to hold one down.  It is just one of the lyrically positive pieces presented in this record, too.  Between those songs, the others noted here and those not noted, it becomes entirely clear why the lyrical themes presented in this record are so important to its presentation.  When they are set alongside the album’s musical arrangements, both show just how big of a risk Set It Off took on this record and how much that risk paid off.  While both elements are clearly important in their own right to the album’s presentation, they are not its only important elements.  The record’s overall sequencing is just as important to note as its arrangements and its lyrical themes.

The musical arrangements and lyrical themes presented throughout Upside Down both show a band that took a huge risk in comparison to its previous records.  They also show a risk that paid off quite well.  While they are both important to the record’s overall presentation, showing why that risk paid off, they are not its only important elements.  The record’s sequencing is just as important to its presentation as its arrangements and lyrical themes.  From beginning to end, the band keeps the energy moving.  That in turn assures even more listeners’ maintained engagement and enjoyment.  That is just part of what makes the sequencing so important to note.  On a deeper level, listeners will note that the band varies the arrangements from one song to the next, too.  It opens with something of a pop-rock arrangement in ‘Something New’ before moving to a more Top 40 Pop sound in ‘Uncontainable,’ the record’s second track.  ‘Life Afraid,’ the record’s third song, is a more club style song in its arrangement.  The band moves back in the pop direction with the record’s fourth track, its title track.  The moody, modern, keyboard-driven arrangement at the heart of ‘Want’ switches things even more.  The variances in the arrangements definitely don’t end there, either.  Rather they continue right to the record’s end.  Those variances in mind, and the energy that is so expertly balanced from start to finish, it becomes clear why this record’s sequencing is just as important to discuss in its importance as its arrangements themselves and the record’s lyrical themes.  All things considered, the elements noted here come together to show Upside Down as one quite a risk for Set It Off, but a risk that paid off in the end.  That is because they come together to show this record has far more upsides than down.

Upside Down is a record that shows great growth from Set It Off.  That is because it presents the band really stepping out of its comfort zone and taking a huge risk both musically and lyrically.  That risk paid off quite well, with the end result being a record that displays far more upsides than down.  From the wide array of musical styles presented in its arrangements and the mix of themes in its lyrical content, the album doesn’t just sit on the band’s past laurels.  It keeps the band (and fans) moving forward.  All things considered, Upside Down proves to have far more upsides than down.  It is available in stores and online now.  It is available at each of the band’s current live shows, too.  That includes the band’s upcoming show in March in Charlotte, NC.  More information on that tour, the band’s new album and all of the band’s latest updates is available online now at:




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