Set If Off - 'Elsewhere' Album Review
3. Cut Off
4. Loose Cannon
5. Why Do I
6. As Good As It Gets
7. Who’s In Control
8. Taste Of The Good Life
9. Why Not Me
12. The Magic 8
13. Playing With Bad Luck
15. Catch A Break
16. Better Than This
Florida alternative genre bending trio Set It Off have returned for their fifth studio album 'Elsewhere', releasing via Fearless Records on March 11th, their second album for Fearless after 2019’s 'Midnight'.
The album opens with the lead single ‘Skeleton’, a track that showcases lead singer Cody Carson’s distinctive Pop-Punk vocals, however the song - and album in general - spans multiple genres, taking on elements of Rap and musical theatre stylings. The song opens on a very nursery rhyme-esque piano motif that recurs throughout the song, and marks some of the slower moments within the track, such as the first half of each chorus, which then picks up with fast-paced instrumentals mainly being lead with Maxx Danzinger’s frantic drumming. This song sets up the album extremely well, and feels like a transitional period within the band’s life, incorporating elements of their older sound whilst blending in new elements.
The album continues with the second single ‘Projector’, a track with a darker tone than ‘Skeleton’, with mentions of Hannibal Lecter amongst blaring horns and slick synths, there’s a very aggressive undertone to the track, feeling dark and gritty in a more unconventional way to what we usually see from Set It Off’s peers, as they don’t purely rely on drop-tuned distorted guitar riffs to create such an atmosphere. The guitar in the track has a very bright tone, yet still comes across as fairly ghostly and creepy, something that I commend guitarist Zach DeWall and the album’s producer for. The horns in the track compliment Carson’s theatrical vocals immaculately, and proves to be a very good choice for a single to further immerse fans in the world of 'Elsewhere'.
One of the stand out tracks on the album for me comes next in the form of ‘Cut Off’. It takes a slower approach than the previous two tracks, but doesn’t lose any impact, maintaining a level of aggression and vulnerability from the band, something that is very apparent throughout the entirety of the album, and especially within the final section of this song, with a crescendoing build up that feels like a massive release for the entire band. I can imagine this track being especially great live, and I know for a fact I’m going to have the whistling from the intro and outro stuck in my head for days to come.
‘Loose Canon’ is perhaps one of the best blends between synth and guitar on the album, with the album’s first guitar solo coming within this track. Once again, the sound and tone of DeWall’s guitar is slick and beautiful, and perhaps one of my favourite tones of this year so far, as it’s so different to anything else that has been released recently and fits in so well with what the band are trying to accomplish. Once again, Carson’s vocals are phenomenal, with some extremely memorable vocal hooks appearing throughout the entire song, and the transitions between soft and gritty singing being very smooth, and Danzinger’s drums provide a solid backdrop without stealing the show, however I’m torn between the thought of the drums being enough to compliment the rest of the track and being left wanting a little more showmanship.
The next standout track for me is the third and final single released from the album, ‘Who’s In Control’. This track is a lot slower than the rest of the singles, however it more than makes up for it in the atmosphere it creates. Once again it plays into the vulnerability that the band are trying to show, with a lot of questions being asked. The guitars and vocals are very haunting, with Carson and DeWall’s voices bouncing off each other perfectly in the harmonies. This is a more directly and overtly dark track, but it works extremely well in the context of the album.
‘Dangerous’ picks up the pace, being the shortest track on the album clocking in at just over two minutes, however it says a lot in its short run time. Once again, it is a masterclass in genre bending, incorporating elements of Rap, Electronica, Pop and Rock. It blends beautifully, especially within the ending, with Carson rapping over a muted acoustic guitar riff, it ends very abruptly, but I don’t think that the song required a flashy ending.
‘Cordial’ once again blends a lot of genres, but I find that this song is the biggest nod to Set It Off’s Pop-Punk roots. With a darker guitar sound set against orchestral strings, it has a very triumphant air to it that I absolutely love. The chorus is very offbeat, and the entire song has a certain urgency about it, and once again gives Carson an opportunity to flex his vocal chops. This is probably one of my favourite tracks on the album.
The album ends on piano ballad ‘Better Than This’. I found this is probably the best fit for Carson’s voice as he puts in a haunting performance. There are subtle additions of strings that accent the piano and vocals beautifully, especially within the second chorus of the song. It’s an amazing end to the album, and I can see it providing a very emotional moment during the band’s live shows if they choose to include it in performances.
The songs I haven’t discussed on the album aren’t bad or even weak in the slightest, however I find that when writing this I would’ve written very similar things that I’d already said about different tracks, which is by no means a negative point, as it pulls the album together and makes it feel very full and complete.
During my time listening to 'Elsewhere', I found myself drawing similarities to Panic! At The Disco’s 2018 release 'Pray For The WIcked', an album that I would definitely class as that band’s worst release, however the same cannot be said for 'Elsewhere'. It hits every mark that it sets out to hit and is absolutely dripping with theatricality. I believe that this is the album that Brendan Urie set out to make in 2018 and failed, but Set It Off has succeeded in spectacular fashion.
Website - https://setitoffband.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/setitoffband
Review - Gordon Rae