This is the third studio album by pop punk outfit, Set It Off. Formed in 2008 by Cody Carson and Dan Clermont in High School, they were soon joined by Zach Dewall and later (after a few members joined & left) by Dan Clermont. I am loosely taking some of the information from their Wikipedia page and which has a lot more information about their formation. They have been slowly but surely gaining more popularity with each release and they focus more on the pop sides of things, but always mixed with messages for the listener to listen to. Before I started to review this album, I listened to their album 'Duality' which had commentary and the passion that was coming from Cody Carson was very informative and insightful, it also made me more interested in finding out more about this band and how 'Upside Down' sounds.
01 - Something New
This is the song was the first single to be released off the album, the video is one where the members of the band come face to face with their greatest fears. The song itself is all about taking chances, make the most of everything and never staying still if possible. It is such a positive and motivational song that I cannot help but smile from ear to ear whenever I hear it, if this song turned out to be the only one on here that I have like, it would be worth it just for this little bundle of joy. One thing though, it is a pop number and the punk level on this is very minimal. Not saying it is a bad thing, but it is very definitely pop (in the best possible way); it is also my favourite song of this summer.
02 - Uncontainable
This song reminds me a lot of Fall Out Boy with a larger than life sound and it sing along sections, the production is very similar to the song 'This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race' by FOB. Another song that is all about how the band feel they are perceived as underdogs and they are going to make as much noise as possible. It is a good number with a familiar sound, this can be seen as something that will make fans of the genre gain an instant connection, but it could also be seen as not having their own voice. Personally, I think it is just coincidence and they are performing to the style of their genre here and the message is one that I appreciate, always trying to aim for the highest mark and never giving up.
03 - Life Afraid
With a full-on pop feel, this song is about being scared at time that life will end without fulfilling your full potential, all the while the music is so cheesy (in a good way) and fun that it is hard to not feel positive about this number. It is as far from punk as Michael Jackson, it is just a feel-good number that shows you should not be afraid and I can imagine that this one will be fun to dance around to.
04 - Upside Down
A song about not focusing on the negatives and trying to look on the positive side of life, making the most of life. I know this blog is mostly known for the alternative side of music, but I am enjoying this. It is a bright and cheerful number that makes the world all shiny and bright, but once more I am questioning how this is classed as pop punk - pop, yes; punk, not close.
05 - Want
'Want' is a song that focuses on putting the breaks on a relationship before someone ends up heartbroken, this is a situation that will be familiar to a lot of people and whilst it may be selfish in one way, it is also better for the someone to be honest and not lead someone along. The music takes a darker tune to match the tone of the subject, it also has a brilliant bass & guitar effect one here which hold the whole song together. For what it is, I enjoy this song as it is different to the rest of the album.
06 - Diamond Girl
I am very surprised by this song, when I played it to a few of my friends it had a lot of comparison to pop artists such as Tears for Fears and Michael Jackson; this song is all about being in a relationship with someone who is damaged from their last relationship and how the other person is trying to reassure them that they are different. This is pure pop, nothing punk here what so ever, but it is a little gem of a song.
07 - Tug of War
So, this is where the guitar has been hiding and even then, it runs for cover quite quickly! This song is about giving someone an ultimatum and they are either in or out, it is another darker number for this album and it is also my least favourite of the record. It is not played badly, but it lacks that connectivity that other songs on the album achieve.
08 - Admit It
Another song about catching someone out who has been cheating, this song continues the darker tone that has been the seeping into this album a little bit. This time the structure of the song makes a lot of sense and the drama of the song is very interesting, but it is also a song that does not have much depth outside that opening statement to be honest. So, another good pop song, but not one that feels.
09 - Hypnotized
Oh, I would not like to be on the receiving end of this song, it is a song about realising that a lover in your life has been leading you along and it is time to show them the door. It is quite an angry little number and one that does not leave the listener in any illusion that there is some major shit going down here. I like the music on this one, it feels like it is aiming for the stars and it is not settling back for anything other than freedom - a good little revenge pop song.
10 - Never Known
Another song that has found the guitar once again! It is a song about not giving up and steeping outside of your comfort zone, it is back on the positive messages once again. I like this song, it is good number that finally falls into the genre of Pop Punk, but it does feel sort of out of place compared to the rest of the album. However, I do like it a lot and it is only pipped by 'Something New' for song of the album.
11 - Crutch
The penultimate song on this album is about being used by someone, giving everything and not getting anything in return, it is a song that is questioning the relationship and its validity. It is a short number that sort of passes me by to be honest, nothing bad, but it is also nothing special either. But this would have been the best place to end the album for me.
12 - Me W/O Us
I must be honest and say this album ends on quite a quiet moment that I was not expecting, another love song that is about feeling that you will be lost forever if the other person is going to leave because of someone else's lies. I am not saying it is not a decent number, but it is a strange one to end this album on. A little too slow maybe, a little too tame and maybe it takes this album a song too far.
I was not expecting such a pop album, even with the fact that the band are categorised as Pop Punk. But to be honest, this is so loosely connected to punk that it could be classed as a passing acquaintance. However, this is not a criticism of the style of music at all, as I have stated on this blog on many an occasion, I love a well-crafted pop song and album which is something that this band does very well. But this is not punk, if the band think this is pop punk then that is their own call. But this is a collection of positive statements, love song and some songs that will be great to dance to and one that is as punk as Stevie Wonder; so, it is a very good pop album from a band who have a lot of positives going for them, but the album is nothing more and nothing less than a good pop record & it does contain one of the best songs of the summer of 2016.
7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top song - Something New
You can purchase Upside Down on Amazon here.
You can visit the Set It Off website here.
You can follow the activities of Set It Off on Facebook here.
You can stream Upside Down on Spotify here.
You can stream Upside Down on Deezer here.
You can stream Upside Down on Tidal here.