Floridians Set It Off have seen their fair share of stylistic change over the years. What was once straight-up catchy pop-punk a few years back slowly filtered itself to become what is almost solely pop nowadays, shedding the rock without losing their clear ability to write a variety of pleasant hooks.
After their last album, 2016’s ‘Upside Down’, cemented the pop tones in their sound, new album ‘Midnight’ takes that a whole lot further, exploiting elements of electronica and conventional pop across an album very slimly linked to the band’s alternative status.
Setting off (pardon the pun) with lead single ‘Killer In The Mirror’ starts things in the right way, with its pumping melodic verses churned with a groove-tinged chorus. Moments like this are what give ‘Midnight’ real substance, combining their innately dark-pop style with an ability to write some nice hooks, which can also be heard on the verses of ‘Hourglass’, the driving, joyous-yet-melancholically-worded Latino-influenced ‘Lonely Dance’, or shameless pop-bop For You Forever’.
The blend of dark patterns with shiny electronics and bouncing beats topped with tasty choruses show this new era Set It Off at their best, while frontman Cody Carson‘s charismatic and devilish delivery carries large parts of the album.
Yet, at 15 songs deep, you’d best not expect it to be all rosy. A large proportion of the record is sadly mediocre, and falls into tropes of standard pop, perhaps playing it too safe.
Take for example tracks like ‘Different Songs’ and ‘I Want You Gone’ which are topped with an 80s sheen, the commonly down-tuned vocals of ‘Dancing With The Devil’, The Chainsmokers-like ‘Go To Bed Angry’, the strangely Backstreet Boys-esque chorus of ‘Hourglass’, or the weirdly-blended rock-pop of ‘Criminal Minds’ – too much of the record is just a bit plain, generic pop. It’s not that these are necessarily bad songs, but the problem is that they’re just pretty filler and fail to justify their place on the record.
‘Midnight’ sits in a fairly awkward place in Set It Off‘s discography, as perhaps not their best effort, but not a terrible one either. Some bands pull off the rock-to-pop switch really effectively, but here, the Floridians fail to offer something different to what’s already out there. As such, ‘Midnight’ is very middle-ground, and while it has its moments, unfortunately, for the most part, it feels quite generic.