Set It Off: ‘Duality’ Album Review

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Have you ever heard an album that switches from angsty-rock to Beyonce in four songs? Well, here’s one. Duality is Floridian five-piece Set It Off’s sophomore album – following up their 2012 release Cinematics. Their debut was bold, theatrical, and earned them a feature in Alternative Press’ most anticipated of 2014. Duality – on the other hand – is a rollercoaster of genres.

The album kicks off with Nightmare Before Christmas inspired “The Haunting,” and we are immediately met with the beautifully angry, cinematic sound Set It Off have produced since their 2011 label debut Horrible Kids. Cody Carson’s vocals are almost eerily angst-fuelled, belting “no one will love you like I did, will touch you like I did, so good luck finding someone better.”

N.M.E” (an acronym for ‘no more excuses’) sticks with the same tone. It isn’t until the fourth track – the incredibly catchy “Why Worry” – that the album has an identity crisis. 

Set It Off are channelling their inner Destiny’s Child with the chorus of this track – opening up Duality’s strong, and reoccurring, pop and R&B influences. But despite the shock “Why Worry” may be to the average listener, it is easily one of the album’s strongest tracks. Not only do the pop-vibes make it an instant crowd pleaser, but its lyrics are incredibly relatable: “when worry is never helping tell me, why, why worry at all.”

Enter “Bleak December,” with its resemblance to the work of Justin Timberlake, energetic pop-rock tune “Ancient History”, “Miss Mysterious” with its N’ Sync undertones, and we’re left with a confusing mix.

But Set It Off’s journey around the music industry doesn’t stop them from returning to their roots mid-album. “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, which features the vocals of ex-The Academy Is… frontman William Beckett, is bathed in malicious lyrics: “If I could kill you I would, but it’s frowned upon in all fifty states!”

Set It Off cover a lot of ground with Duality. It’s an eclectic group of songs that shouldn’t work together, but it seems that’s what the band were aiming for. Duality, to Carson, is “the juxtaposition of two polar opposites;” something very clear in the composition of their album.

That being said, it’s too broad a spectrum of content, style, and genre. Duality does showcase the impressive diversity of the band, and demonstrate how much they’ve progressed since their debut, but its effect is more that of a jukebox than an album.