Review Summary: Change without compromise.
Before hearing 'Peripheral Vision' in full, I was expecting to be sorely disappointed. The change in style the singles showed off made me worry that Turnover would pull a Title Fight - that is, to compromise songwriting and emotion in the attempt to sound more "mature". Thankfully, Turnover instead produced an album with a clear aesthetic change, while maintaining the strong songwriting and emotional weight of their past work.
The opening track 'Cutting My Fingers Off' illustrates this change. The guitar parts, vocal lines and lyrics sound like much of their previous work, but with echo on the vocals and distortion removed from the guitars. And this aesthetic actually works really well here, due in part to the type of haziness present here. It's not a haze that acts as an musical and emotional barrier between the band and the listener. Instead, it's one which makes every line sung by vocalist Austin Getz linger just enough to strengthen his melodies amongst a backdrop of watery broken chords. This complements the introspective lyrics present throughout the album, making each line sound a little more sad and internal, as though each line is no more than a thought. In this way, Turnover still very much take from Emo without sounding like most music in the genre, in the same way they did on their previous album, Magnolia.
Much of the success Turnover have in this aesthetic shift comes from Getz's vocal style itself, in that it works just as well if not better here without any major change in his delivery. Take for instance the track 'I Would Hate You If I Could', which was actually on an EP released around the time Magnolia was. The original version of the track was enjoyable but slightly incohesive, featuring verses similar to those found on Peripheral Vision, with a chorus consisting of distorted guitar parts and more angsty vocal delivery. The present version feels much more complete, as Austin's slightly more mellow echoed vocals nicely complement the cleaner instrumentals. The overall aesthetic found on Peripheral Vision actually complements Austin's gentle baritone vocal delivery much better Magnolia's crunchy, twinkly aesthetic did. This is more than just an add-reverb-and-stir approach, or simply playing like 90s shoegaze bands - Turnover use their shift in style to create more cohesive music.
The only major gripe I have with this album is that many of the tracks here open in the same way - fade in broken chord guitar chord, followed by a possible vocal line, and then verse, chorus and so on. As such, the song openings do get slightly monotonous. However, this type of opening does work really well in many tracks here, particularly as a way to ease listeners into the album with the aforementioned opener 'Cutting My Fingers Off'.
Overall, Peripheral Vision should serve as an example for bands wanting to mature their sound. It's not at all about sounding less angsty and "going soft". It's about finding a sound that meshes well with the vocals and song structure to create a more cohesive sound, while maintaining the same emotional weight and solid songwriting. Turnover accomplish this on Peripheral Vision, and in doing so have matured their sound without compromise.
Recommended Tracks: Cutting My Fingers Off, Humming, Hello Euphoria, I Would Hate You If I Could.