Their biggest commercial success to date, it’s understandable ‘Duality’ was the Florida set’s choice for an acoustic make-under. Hand-picking five tracks to strip bare of their decidedly pop-punk roots and stand trial alongside an acoustic guitar and piano, the challenge to display new facets to their sophomore full-length remains at the forefront of ‘Duality: Stories Unplugged’.
Bringing a heartbroken, soulful aspect to an otherwise poppy get-up-and-go anthem, ‘Ancient History’ proves the lyrical content suits acoustic backing more comfortably. "Don’t come back, I need you to be my ancient history,” pleads vocalist Cody Carson’s versatile range, tugging ever tighter on heartstrings to the tune of heartfelt acoustics. ‘Tomorrow’, on the other hand, opens quite chaotically as the acoustic guitar and piano vie for centre stage. Again, however, the lyrics apply themselves expertly to a stripped-back atmosphere, expressing a sense of wild abandon alongside Cody’s inspiring interlude – “don’t look backward, look forward, trust me.”
‘The Haunting’ sadly falls short of its aim to convey a more menacing threat than its predecessor. Somewhat synthetic, the chorus begs to be liberated from its acoustic restraints, slowed down beyond all recognition. Previously contagious energetic anthem ‘Why Worry’ receives its stripped alter-ego with mixed emotions, too. The signature gang vocals are lost to the echoes of acoustic integrity, yet the chorus maintains its toe-tapping originality.
Owing itself to a better focus on the lyrics, an unplugged ‘Bleak December’ comes accompanied by a violin-infused backing, adding a haunting depth to an unexpectedly suitable adaptation. “We’re not going crazy, we’re learning to fly,” calls out fresh track ‘Wild Wild World’, an optimistic call for social reformation that effectively abandons their revenge-laden past. It’s a refreshing albeit temporary climate change for the symphonic rockers that grow weary of genres at a rapid pace.
Exchanging ‘The Haunting’ with ‘Bad Guy’ would have significantly improved the overall ethos of this acoustic EP intent on exposing new stories under the concept of ‘Duality’. Equal parts disappointing and heartbreaking, ‘Duality: Stories Unplugged’ heralds a new era for the quartet that refuse to yield to adversity.
‘Duality: Stories Unplugged’ EP by Set It Off is out now on Rude Records.
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Words by Ali Cooper (@AliZombie_)