Review Summary: Do you like pop-punk without the catchiness? Me neither.
Set Your Goals has always been one of those bands that has been hard to hate; catchy pop punk is always hard to frown upon, and Set Your Goals always took it one step further with uplifting, motivating lyrics and enthusiastic vocals, making them a fail-safe fun listen. The band has been slightly evolving ever since their first EP, but they’ve always been successful on delivering on the feel-good factor, delivering lots of good times and energy. But with their third full-length, Burning At Both Ends
, Set Your Goals seem to be hitting a rough patch, where the band sounds tired for the first time in their career. How does the band’s third full-length fail to deliver?
In a nutshell, Burning At Both Ends
suffers from the ever tragic “every-song-sounds-the-same” syndrome. It seems like the band is going through the motions, offering simple, straight-forward progressions without any exciting, worthwhile parts. What element it is sorely missing, however, is the lack of any catchy chorus. I mean, literally, there’s none
to be found. “Cure For Apathy” gets the ball rolling, and we’re treated to a fairly average riff followed by a fairly average chorus. Nothing really switches up and no momentum really builds until the very end, but then the song ends abruptly. “Start the Reactor” follows up with some nonchalant riffs and another average chorus, and the whole thing doesn’t really exceed expectations, but it doesn’t really offer up anything offensive enough to hate.
And, well, really, the album just sleepwalks from there. While Mutiny!
possessed a copious amount of energy and had some gigantic riffs and sing-a-longs, and This Will Be The Death Of Us
had a hardcore-tinge and use of guest vocalists, Burning At Both Ends
just shows up, says “here it is”, and leaves. It’s the same tempos, same streamlined riffs, same boring choruses and relatively same run-times for what seems like forever. It’s not until when “Exit Summer” pops up that some energy is to be found: at a slightly faster pace, the song succeeds in creating some enthusiasm, but the song still, frustratingly enough, boasts another painfully average chorus.
From there, there’s very little to no standouts to mention. “Product of the 80s” generates some interest initially because of its slower tempo, but it’s yet another terrible chorus. “Illuminated Youth” has a great shouting part near the end of its mid-section, but it is short lived and is never built upon. Finally, closer “Not As Bad” is the exact same as every song on here, except after 10 minutes of silence, we’re treated to a goofy hidden song, featuring meowing, barking and belching. Sadly enough, it’s the only time on Burning At Both Ends
that we get a glimpse of the band’s personality, and it’s probably the only time during the whole album that the band delivered something that was unexpected.
Burning At Both Ends
seems to be sort of a tongue-in-cheek signalling to the fans that, yes, we’re burnt out, so this album is going to be tired, uninspired and bland. Featuring very little to no memorable parts, Burning At Both Ends
is painfully average, so much so that it’s frustrating that a band that had absolutely no trouble finding enthusiasm in the past takes a complete whiff here. Not one of the worst releases of the year so far, but easily one of the most disappointing.