Set It Off

Cinematics

Written by: TL on 21/12/2012 21:10:51

Tampa-based quintet Set It Off have named their debut LP from September "Cinematics". Close, but no cigar lads, I think they should have called it "Theatrics", because above else, that is what characterises the twelve tracks on the first full length from these Equal Vision upcomers. Take away every sampled piano, violin and horn from this record, and what you have left is - no, amazingly not standard post-hardcore - rather fast-paced pop-punk, complete with sharp, high-strung vocals and attitude and lyricism drenched in the 'batwings and eyeliner' faux-emo of the mid noughties.

Clearly however, the whole point here is to give pop-punk a highly theatrical twist, much like bands like Chiodos and In Fear And Faith have done to post-hardcore. This approach places "Cinematics"' sound somewhere between the goth-circus of Fearless Vampire Killers and earlier My Chemical Romance and the poppy, almost musical-ish sound of bands like Marianas Trench and Panic! At The Disco. The good news is that the experiment is actually pretty succesful, with loads of melodramatic bells and whistles (and trumpets! Check out "Plastic Promises" and especially "Dad's Song"!) prettying up the relatively straight-forward base instrumentation to a point where it'll sweep along even sceptical listeners after a mere one or two listens.

Of course it doesn't hurt that the record is shamelessly chorus-centric and while it brings along some predictability that means that not all songs hit home as well as others, it also brings a solid number of memorable winners here. "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", "Dream Catcher" and "I'd Rather Drown" are particularly infectious, which is a good thing, because Set It Off need their powers of good old stickiness to overcome the fact that the hysterical vocals and occasionally adolescent lyricism will likely prove challenging to listeners who come in for first listens in a grumpy mood (speaking from experience here).

The essence of this review I guess is that if you come into "Cinematics" all high-minded and mature, Set It off will very likely strike you as teeny, tryhard and maybe even a bit annoying, yet with each listen you lend to it, it will surely become harder and harder to resist. It is simply that infectious, to the point where it might have you all up and ready to swing canes and do jazzhands if it catches you in the right mood. Such persuasive power is a staple of good pop music - which this is on some level of course, and that's not a bad thing - and I admit that for each time I listen to it, "Cinematics" strikes me as increasingly more charming. I only think a little more ambition and a little more variety in the song structures could have done wonders to prevent the less memorable songs on here from feeling a bit like filler, and from me being concerned about the album's lasting values.

Download: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, Dream Catcher, I'd Rather Drown, Dad's Song
For The Fans Of: My Chemical Romance, Pierce The Veil, Marianas Trench, Elliot Minor
Listen: facebook.com/setitoffband

Release Date 18.09.2012
Equal Vision Records

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