By Set Your Goals
Very few bands successfully pull off a hardcore-tinged pop-punk sound, but with 'This Will Be the Death of Us,' Set Your Goals show how to perfectly execute this. Packed with catchy riffs and choruses, the odd breakdown and gang vocals, this is an addictive follow up to the band's 'Mutiny!' album.
The first noticeable difference with the band is the vocals. Where Matt Wilson's 'whine' used to grind on the ear in some areas on 'Mutiny!' it has now taken on a lower pitch, whilst retaining all of the enthusiasm from former tracks.
Forthcoming single and album title track 'This Will Be the Death of Us' opens proceedings with its structured punk chord progressions and a typical Set Your Goals' sounding verse. Having acted as the backing band for The Movielife at recent shows, the title track features guest vocals from Vinnie Caruana, now of I Am the Avalanche. With some hints of The Movielife about their sound, Caruana fits seamlessly into the mix.
Set Your Goals are a band dependant on their sound flowing and maintaining an energy, and with both their albums they kick off at a rapid pace. Tracks 'Look Closer' and 'Summer Jam' have a much poppier sound musically in some parts, with the opening riff of 'Look Closer' sounding similar to a Blink-182 riff when they were at their peak. 'Summer Jam' lyrically focuses on the history of the band and their journey to get to where they are now. Although bands complain about touring, Set Your Goals seem to enjoy their time spent touring with a positive outlook, singing 'even as we get older, we can do it all over.'
I am a fan of guest vocals, and this album has plenty of them. Hayley Williams of Paramore features on 'The Few That Remain' and this is probably the best of them. It displays a different side to her vocals than she gets to express with her own band, and her aggressive side fits in with Set Your Goals much better than I imagined it would do, as do her usual melodic vocals. 'Our Ethos: A Legacy to Pass On' has additional vocals from Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory. Although he does occasionally add his chant vocal aspect to New Found Glory, they would benefit from more vocal input from Gilbert as he does a great job on this track.
'Gaia Bleeds (Make Way for Man)' is the most powerful song lyrically and musically on the album. Having this as a heavier track does help to get the message across, and it's a new direction for Set Your Goals to create a song expressing a form of political output. Although topical to current events, it also conveys a general message of the negative idea of man playing God, and the damage that it actually does without resolving anything.
Set Your Goals have produced a really good second album showing maturity and growth following 'Mutiny!' but holding onto their pop sensibilities and ability to write addictive songs that demand a second, third and fourth play on rotation. Their move to Epitaph after suffering through issues with Eulogy Records has proved a positive move for the band. Having recently improved their roster with several new bands, they now have another great release under their label with 'This Will Be the Death of Us.'