Release Date: March 11, 2022
Genre: Pop, Pop Rock, Pop Punk Label: Fearless Records
The Los Angeles-based pop-punk/pop-rock trio Set It Off has once again upped the ante of their songwriting and musical abilities with their latest and fifth bulky sixteen-track offering, Elsewhere. Set It Off -who is made up of vocalist and lyricist Cody Carson, guitarist Zach DeWall, and drummer Maxx Danziger- have taken the sound you may have grown to love. By taking elements from their past and combining them with some new elements, the band has either slightly or never has dabbled in, tossed it all into a musical blender, and spun out what is a confident stride into the future for the band. Elsewhere is a collectively produced album from producers Bruce Wiegner (Scotty Sire, Gabbie Hanna, Katy Perry), Mike Green (Pierce the Veil, 5 Seconds of Summer, Neck Deep), and Nico Stadi (Justin Bieber, Lindsey Stirling, Jason Derulo). In addition to co-producing the album, Green provided additional bass guitars, and Stadi provided some keyboards to Elsewhere.
Set It Off's fifth album is a colossal record on many levels, and the biggest one that needs to be mentioned before anything else is that Elsewhere is a semi-concept album. A first for the band, the songs were written "backwards." Instead of writing an album about the concept the band wanted to achieve, they wrote the songs and placed them in a certain order to craft a story out of the collective topics the songs ended up being written about. This method from Set It Off was put into motion so the songs can be enjoyed separately, but if listened to from beginning to end, they tell a much bigger story. And while the core of the story within Elsewhere is based around the trio's insecurities, the band will further elaborate on the album's full concept within all their music videos, etc., in due time. With the pandemic lockdowns, the writing of Elsewhere was a cathartic release for vocalist Cody Carson to express into words in some form. On top of the album's numerous co-producers, the band had a few different collaborators come on board the writing sessions of Elsewhere and helped bring these songs to life in one way or another. One of the collaborators, in particular, was Tyler Glenn, the frontman of the rock act Neon Trees. Glenn is also one of Carson's dream collaborators, and his dream finally came true as they co-wrote the album's third track, "Cut Off," together. TWIN XL singer Cameron Walker, Bruce Wiegner (who also co-produced Elsewhere), and Brandon Paddock all re-enlisted to write some tunes with Set It Off. Paddock specifically has been co-writing tunes with Carson since the band's 2014 album, Duality. Between Cody and the other writers included, before recording the album, Set It Off had written around forty songs completed to pick from.
Elsewhere opens up with the instantly infectious tune, "Skeleton." The opening number is very pop-leaning -and is not something new to Set It Off in any stretch. However, the song features a hip-hop-style bridge. Something only really tackled once or twice from the band in the past and last done on a few albums ago now. It's something that is incorporated quite a bit into the album. "Projector" takes the band into even more familiar territory with fast-paced sung lyrics coupled with an irresistible chorus. Again, Carson raps on "Projector." The dancey third track, "Cut Off," is the poppiest track on the album yet. Backed by a bold bass-line, its message is clear with its repetitiveness, but less is more with "Cut Off." Let the music speak on this one. "Loose Cannon" is one of Elsewhere's most genre-bending numbers and features extraordinary performances from all three members of the band. Sadly, it's one of the shortest tracks on the album, but behind its pop-rock foundation, Carson is a tour de force, while DeWall and Danziger deliver breathy, haunting backing vocals that leave this track standing out among the rest after many, many listens. You can't forget that deep, groovy bass line that burrows within you.
"As Good As It Gets" sees Carson bare a lot into the song's lyrics, and the song's tone captures it before the track explodes into something villainous in ways. If you ever wanted to find out what The 1975 would sound like if they dabbled around in a much more poppy direction than they ever have, this is the perfect track for you. Somehow as the album continues, the band manages to deliver even more infectious choruses than the previous tracks. "Who's In Control" tackles the subject of the band and the industry's artistic freedoms. It speaks the old age question of who is truly in control when a band or artist becomes more than just a hobby and fun and transfers into more so a job with contracts and all that fun jazz.
"Why Not Me" at the lyrical level is about self-doubt from Carson, who sees all his friends finding success, but he isn't. However, at a musical level, "Why Not Me" is massive. It's slow, methodical then it's got these bigger faster parts and just an absolute banger. The additional stringed instruments bring this song to new heights, and the song becomes something off of a movie soundtrack. This song feels like it should be playing as a big action film ends. Elsewhere's shortest track, "Dangerous," is the most infectious track from start to finish. Overall, "Dangerous" is another fast-paced pop-rock banger with hip-hop elements, but the chorus is where all the attention should be focused. The band used an acapella bass line that's absolutely new and unique for the band. I've only heard something similar to this acapella portion of the song from the Canadian pop-rock outfit Marianas Trench. Nearing the end of Elsewhere, "Playing With Bad Luck" holds strong onto the pop side of Set It Off but really digs into the band's roots the most than any other song on the record. "Peekaboo," as well, dives into their rock side. Overall, "Peekaboo" shines a very haunting tone, which is very difficult to find the right words to describe it in much detail. Elsewhere closes out with the piano-driven ballad, "Better Than This." It takes Set It Off on one more ride into the new. "Better Than This" was inspired by Carson's family and friends who have been asking for him to strip things back, even if it's just for one track. So Carson delivered, and he bares his heart and soul into this delightful and emotional album-closing number. It's a fresh and new change to close out this eclectic sixteen-track album. You never know what you're going to get with each Set It Off, and Elsewhere affirms this fact about the band. Elsewhere is a hefty sixteen-track album full of tunes that none of which sound like each other. It's a collection of eclectic bangers blending various genres ranging from pop-rock, hip-hop, pop-punk, and pop. Set It Off continue to prove they have plenty left in the tank, and they're here to stay. You can still pre-order and pre-save the album, and the band just wrapped up a tour, but they're currently scheduled to get out on the road in April and are sure to have more tour dates across the globe to support Elsewhere very soon.
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