Brooklyn’s the Death Set returns with its second album, chock full of its signature spastic punk blasts but with an added taste of emotion. While Michel Poiccard (Counter) stays extremely close to the group’s ever-present amount of adrenaline, there is a noticeable amount of maturity, and even restraint, found among the screeching, high energy pop-punk.
The pop-punk side of the Death Set has always sounded like if Blink-182 snorted more crushed Adderall, cared less about impressing 13-year-old-girls and experimented with techno and hip-hop flavors. This attitude is all over the album in the cheekily titled songs “Can You See Straight?” and “I Been Searching For This Song Called Fashion.” The album’s thumping first single, “Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap,” rocks harder and with more precision than any of the band’s previous efforts. Though the distortion on the vocals disguises the words as pain- and anger-riddled yelps, the occasional shout-out to Ninjasonik and Cerebral Ballzy can be deciphered in the aggressive lyrical code.
The album takes a left turn with the more mellow ballads “7PM Woke Up An Hour Ago,” “Is It The End Again?” and the ode to the group’s fallen brother, “I Miss You Beau Velasco.” The guitars maintain their usual levels of distortion, but the vocals trade in the incomprehensible wailing for reverb-heavy and melodic chorus lines. The melancholic vocals float with ease over the fuzz, revealing a level of heartfelt emotion that this band has never before shown. However, it doesn’t sound contrived. It’s almost like the Death Set has been hiding this shoe-gaze affinity for ages.
The group’s stab at human emotion is a smashing success because it’s coming from a real place: the death of former band member Beau Velasco. What is so amazing though, is that that the sadness doesn’t weigh the album down. Instead the sorrow in some of the tracks offers a welcome release from the group’s high-octane mindset.