Some early evening thoughts on Set It Off’s Midnight Thoughts

Paige McLaughlin

Photo: Wikimedia Commons Set It Off got their start via Youtube.

 

Most of the bands I consider my “favorites” are ones I’ve known about for a long time. 

It’s very rare that I come across an artist that just grabs me and doesn’t let go, but Set It Off has proven to be the exception to that rule. 

With four albums in their repertoire, the pop-rock band from Tampa released their most recent triumph on Feb. 1, 2019, in the form of Midnight. 

Midnight is a fifteen-track record that, much like its predecessors, has its own distinct tone that makes it easy to identify as a Set It Off work. 

It has an uneasy and ominous feeling to it, some songs presented almost as a warning. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the songs “Killer In the Mirror,” “Hourglass,” “Dancing With the Devil,” “Criminal Minds,” “Go to Bed Angry,” and “Midnight Thoughts.” 

All of these in particular deal with both internal and external conflict; this is not necessarily a new theme for the band, but it is shown here as a fact of life. 

“Killer In the Mirror” and “Hourglass,” in particular, may seem more simple during initial listens, but upon further inspection, the strife presented is more complex: “How did we get so jaded? I don’t know. Was it the white lies feeding our egos? […] How did it get so scary? I don’t know. Was it the hard life starving our egos?” 

It would be a crime to talk about Set It Off without mentioning their unerring ability to write gorgeous ballads and feel-good songs; they are the kingpin, the necessary piece needed to counter and enhance the conflict presented within the rest of the album. 

“Unopened Windows,” one of the obligatory ballads for Midnight, opens with the line “My favorite movies are tales never filmed that I dream of living out,” and the haunting, beautiful piano forms the backbone for the rest of the tune, where Cody Carson, the lead singer, croons about a time that is now lost. 

The instrumentals in this song are overwhelmingly present, almost a character in their own right, but they never overshadow the lead vocals. 

“Happy All the Time,” is, unsurprisingly, the feel-good song. 

What did surprise me, however, especially upon first listening, was that it is not a song that talks about letting go of your worries, or not letting them get to you (which its predecessors did very expertly). 

It instead screams with reckless abandon, “It’s okay, you’re not crazy! […] It’s fine to not be happy all the time!” 

This song has a brassier sound to it, incorporating horns and a catchy, memorable chorus, and is an easy candidate to play on repeat. 

This is the perfect song to end the album with. 

I genuinely believe that there is no better way to conclude this story where anger and frustration and sadness are so prevalent than to remind all of us listeners that all of those emotions can seem debilitating, but nobody is always fine. 

Midnight is a well-written, well-performed, and well-paced album. 

Set It Off has finally settled into their sound, and their experience is finally showing in a new and dramatic way that it hasn’t quite pulled off until now. 

It’s definitely worth a listen, especially for people who are looking for something different to add to their music library. 

Top five songs: “Killer In the Mirror,” “Hourglass,” “Lonely Dance,” “Unopened Windows,” “Happy All the Time”