Set Your Goals follows up their debut album, Mutiny!, with yet another fusion of pop punk and scarce hardcore elements. For those of you unfamiliar with Mutiny!, let me sum it up for you in a few brief sentences. It was light and fun. It was catchy at times. Yeah, I kind of dug it, but it got pretty textbook at times. Dont get me wrong, Mutiny! had its moments despite being almost embarrassingly cheesy at times, but how long could this brand of pop punk really hold my interest? Sure, it was fun to play on the car ride home and occasionally while kicking it, but was there really anything beyond that? There must be a reason why my high school self used to feel so enthused and empowered by this hardcore pop-punk love child. After listening to This Will Be the Death of Us, however, I have drawn a quite different conclusion.
With This Will Be the Death of Us, Set Your Goals proves that everything we know about pop punk is, basically, everything there is to know about pop punk. So we have more fist-pumping anthems, a few catchy hooks here and there, and an even greater homogeneity between songs. But wait! Theres more! The production is nice and shiny. The lyrics are still mind numbingly high schoolish (especially the spoken word sections) and oh, and did I mention there are guest vocals? There are a total of four cameo appearances, including Hayley Williams, the lead singer from that lovely band, Paramore. Unfortunately the other three (Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, John Gula of Turmoil, and Vinnie Caruna of I am the Avalanche), dont really stand out as much and seem to get lost within the dual vocals of lead singers Jordan Brown and Matt Wilson. All in all, its a tolerable albeit tacky listen that will most likely satisfy the pop-punk enthusiast.
Songs like This Will Be The Death of Us and The Fallen standout not only as some of the brighter moments of this album, but can also be considered the bands strongest material. The latter kicks off with a burst of gang vocals before speeding forth with more dual vocal exchanges all layered on top of some catchy pop punk guitar. Its all pretty predictable, but it still manages to be catchy and fun nonetheless. Others like Gaia Bleeds and the oober-cheesy Summer Jam however, dont quite achieve that same sparkle of some of the other tracks. Gaia Bleeds disrupts the pop flow of the album through its abundant use of weak breakdowns and screamed vocals. The track comes across as a feeble attempt to really showcase the hardcore elements of the band, when in reality, the so-called crushing guitars and gutting vocals are about as heavy as any radio nu-metal band. Summer Jam on the other hand shares some similarities with Four Year Strong including the obnoxious synth notes and preachy cheese-filled lyrics about growing older but staying young. Ick. When you finally hit the last several tracks, odds are youll be worn out. By this time everything will have melded together into a sticky and sugary pop-punk mess of indistinguishable songs.
So again, like Mutiny!, this album does have its quirks. But I must admit, it doesnt have enough of these quirks to really hold my interest over for more than a handful of songs. I know I sound like some jaded ass, but this brand of music just seems to sound and feel flat and this release doesnt exactly have me reconsidering these delirious thoughts. If however, youre already digging this brand of music or if youre looking for an album that satisfies your late high school urges, by all means check this out. Pop-punk fans wont be disappointed.
6.4 / 10
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