Review Summary: Lost in the haze.
Something’s been brewing inside Turnover. Their explosive self-titled EP, entrenched deeply in familiar pop punk angst of yesteryear, set them on an unexpected course. Somewhere along the way, things changed, transforming their sound drastically and almost unrecognizably into the dreamy and summery soundscapes of Peripheral Vision. However, the signs along this journey were all too apparent. Their debut full length, Magnolia, significantly trimmed the youthful uneasiness and frustration of their EP into a far more restrained, melodic record. From Magnolia, twinkling guitars and wandering emo vocals slowly gave way to vocalist Austin Getz shoegazing over hushed landscapes of ambient fretwork and mellowed drums. This transition into a more refined indie sound, a la Title Fight or Pianos Become the Teeth, is all too familiar to pop punk and hardcore fans as of late. But if one traces Turnover back to the start, Peripheral Vision is not a radically unexpected departure so much as it is a natural continuation of the band’s sound. The addictive melodies and mesmerizing, bouncy guitars have stayed course, just trained slowly into new territory. Peripheral Vision is a realization of Turnover’s ongoing evolution, and, unlike the works of other bands who have followed a similar path, comes fully into its own.
The album blooms into existence with the opening track “Cutting My Fingers Off”. A gusty wave of ambient electronics gradually roll in, giving way to gorgeous, shimmering guitar noodling. Getz embraces his natural baritone voice and strides into frame, shouldering a melancholic recollection of love lost. It unfolds into the most familiar Turnover song on the record as its guitar tones retreat to more distorted territory and crash into a climactic finish. It feels more like a return to form than the rest of the album, but nonetheless sets the mood off with a captivating clap of sound, and exemplifies some of the best traits of the record.
“Losing you is like cutting my fingers off”, Getz croons to close out the song. On Peripheral Vision, the lyrics are particularly noteworthy, and integral to its overall cohesiveness. Turnover weaves concrete observations and scenarios with delicate analogies to form a web of frustrated accounts, mostly detailing failed romance. Such subject matter is fairly typical for the genre, but is done in such an interesting, stylistic manner that the familiarity of some of the stories told can be forgiven. Juxtaposed against the fairly glittery backdrops, the lyrics and vocals are comparably gloomy. None of this is sung with quite the conviction as prior Turnover releases, but it better suits the music now. Rather than being caught in a chaotic whirlwind of emotion like albums past, Getz seems more to be wandering aimlessly through a thick haze. In his sauntering, he recounts and introspectively examines old memories of love as they fade in and out about him. This is an appropriate approach, as it allows for more mature subject matter to be explored and splattered across the already colorful canvas of instrumentals with genuine artistic conviction, and not be muddled in the process.
Unfortunately, break-ups, wistful lullaby vocals, and a tender ambient backdrop is a limited arsenal. This tends to be the largest issue with the recent shoegaze revival, and Turnover doesn’t quite manage to be an exception to the rule. They manage to escape the more extreme fate of bands like Title Fight by presenting the listener with a highly refined, mature sound, but don’t quite manage to avoid the plague of sameness. Unfortunately, this kind of easygoing sound is still inherently limiting in tempo, instrumental, and melodic variety. The aforementioned “Cutting My Fingers Off” is by far one of the most interesting songs in how perfectly in blends their pop punk core and new, softer influences, but this is quickly abandoned as Turnover dive headlong into their new sound. “Humming” and “I Would Hate You If I Could” are two of my favorite songs, simply out of my affection for their particular melodies and lyrics, but could easily be exchanged for “New Scream” and “Take My Head”, respectively. The final track, “Intrapersonal” best exemplifies this. It fails to do service to the scope of Peripheral Vision by not providing any real sense of closure, instead staking its claim as nothing more than just another song. It’s equally as catchy and moody as the tracks preceding it, but does even less as a finisher than songs falling elsewhere in the album. Turnover certainly has the talent and musical versatility to elevate this sound in a stronger blend of outside influences and more unique structures, but play it disappointingly safe.
However, Turnover’s failed struggle against homogeneity still left us with the best possible sound they could have created in such limiting conditions. As a result, the record bears an incredible consistency. Instead of spreading themselves thin in variety, the band’s attention has been turned to creating the most vivid, rich texture possible. The end result falls perfectly alongside other masterful indie works of mood and texture such as Paracosm, Lonesome Dreams, and Feast of Love. It’s breezy and melody driven, but not gimmicky or unnatural. It’s an album that splatters vibrant paint across the walls of even the most austere room. It’s an album to be played with the windows down and the wind in your hair, and it feels too damn good to let you care about how cliché such a thing is. It’s an album that’s foggy orange and teal like the album cover, hazy and dense like the summer sun, soft and expansive like the sea, nostalgic and warm like the distant memories that Getz spent the last 40 minutes pouring over. It exudes color and spirit from every pore, and each time that the soft plucking of a guitar ushers in the next track, it washes over you all over again, and you forget just how similar it sounds to the song before it. Again and again.