Set Your Goals – This Will Be The Death Of Us

By Spud

Bands and journalists always talk about the idea of the ‘difficult second album’; it’s a problem that you can exacerbate by having your firstborn not leave the teat until the age of three. A problem which in this case arose courtesy of multiple vinyl editions of Set Your Goals‘ first well-received album Mutiny!.

And Mutiny! mark two this aint. What you have here is evidence of a band who can allegedly command the buying out of 6-figure contract and still have plenty of money left in the kitty to lavish over some expensive-sounding production. But the over-compression and complete lack of dynamics in the sound really works against the sound of a band who, for me, are epitomised by massive crunching guitars and associated aural explosions (see: ‘This Very Moment’, 1:33). As it is the closest they get to such crescendos and crowdsurfing-intensity-peaks-here moments is in ‘Gaia Bleeds’ when where they take some latter-day Story of the Year-esque guitars and combine them with an aping of A Day To Remember‘s breakdowns. The problem is, ADTR are all-too-often guilty of putting the breakdown ahead of the song in their to do list.

Instead of polishing and polishing what they have, this record oddly works best when the band give their own take on established styles. The most obvious case in point is ‘Our Ethos: A legacy to pass on’. It’s Set Your Goals playing an amalgamation of NUFAN, (Reclamation-style) Bigwig and when Chad Gilbert chucks in a verse in the second half it all feels a bit H20-ish. It’s just a well-crafted and precisely executed piece of anthemic modern punk.

Thankfully it’s not the only moment where you’ll sit and crack a smile to yourself: ‘Like you to me’, despite sounding like it was named by the Chuckle Brothers, is really rather good. ‘Equals’ and ‘Flawed Methods of Persecution and Punishment’ are similarly pleasant and, again, seem to have a late 90s/early 00s feel about some of the riffs. Of course it will be an obvious period of inspiration for a band of their age, but this really does sound like their future niché – the dividing line between the upbeat skate-punk style of a few years ago, but with a slick hardcore twist.

Unfortunately, though, it goes without saying that this record is not full of well-exected 90s throwbacks: there are four or five absolute trollops dotted around. Whichever remedial thought it would be a great idea to get Paramore‘s Hayley Williams to stop a song halfway through and commit the worst offences against rap since Fearless Records’ Punk Goes Crunk ought to publicly apologise – it’s an absolute abortion-level mess. The two songs of interlude length are wasted space and both the title track and ‘Look Closer’ are far, far too safe and predictable. They could have released those songs 3 years ago.

It’s fair to say I’m a bit confused this record. Probably to a similar extent as I am by the role of SYG’s second singer (with the high-pitched voice). I’m not sure what they’re trying (or supposed) to do. If they manage to nail it by album three and come out with an collection of highs that is consistently around this record’s pinnacle, then it really will be something to behold. As it is, this record struggles to find its footing and develop any recognisable style of its own. However, it’s not bad; it will appease the fans and it will provide a timely stop-gap until that potential third album, whenever that might be.

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