Cinematics - Album Review by Jonathan, Teen Blogger
Set It Off’s 2012 studio effort Cinematics is an album that I never thought I would like as much I as did. On the surface, it's another rock album in the same vein as My Chemical Romance or Panic! at the Disco. As much as I don’t like using the term “emo,” it’s admittedly a fair description of this album. However, this album is set apart by doing a few things outstandingly well, at the expense of other aspects being mediocre.
Set It Off's strongest point overall is their intensity. The band seems to focus on being as hard-hitting as possible, without being too abrasive to listen to. This is achieved remarkably well, with plenty of tight drum fills, and downbeats that hit with all the force of a bullet train. There are no flashy guitar solos or complex rhythms to be found, but Set It Off knows how to come together to create a synergistic rock sound. The chemistry between each member of the band, aided by the album's excellent production and mixing, is undeniable. Cinematics also features a variety of orchestral instruments, mostly synthesized ones, which are surprisingly well implemented into the band's hard rock sound. These range from a gothic choir part in "The Grand Finale" to an almost mockingly jazzy horn section in "Plastic Promises." It's not an original idea by any means, but the execution is unique to Set It Off. I could see singer Cody Carson's vocals being hit or miss with different listeners, but personally I don't mind them. Carson's high-pitched voice can sound whiny at times, but his sharp annunciation meshes perfectly with all the other elements of the band's sound.
By far the weakest element of Cinematics is its lyrics, which are inoffensive at their best, and cringe-worthy at their worst. Some tracks, such as "I'd Rather Drown,” focus on being harsh, and do their job reasonably well. The lyrics have their fair share of awkward similes, but they don't detract from the overall quality of the song. Others like "Dream Catcher" are sometimes so cliché that they're hard to take seriously, and songs like "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", while their frustrations seem genuine, are so straightforward that paying attention to the lyrics feels almost like a waste of time. The album's attempts at cleverness fall flat more often than not, and don't seem to add anything to the music other than a distraction.
Overall, Cinematics by Set It Off is far from a perfect album, but in many ways it’s still worth listening to. If you’re willing to look past clumsy lyrics and some unoriginality, it’s a tight, relentless rock album that’s a blast to listen to.