REVIEW: Set Your Goals – Burning At Both Ends

Set Your Goals

Artist: Set Your Goals
Album: Burning At Both Ends
Genre: Pop Punk/Rock
Label: Epitaph

Every band seems to face a wealth of pressure when approaching their Sophomore release. Theoretically, your debut is filled with a lifetime of effort and experiences, but your second release is much more rushed, generally created out of, at most, a couple years of experience. They call it the “Sophomore slump,” but I think it is really only the first test for bands. If your first album is the accumulation of a lifetime of dreaming, the second release is your first actual platform to display your skill. Once you do that, if your fans still stand, you are faced with the much tougher decision of what to do next. Some choose to “stay true” and carry the torch that has gotten them this far, others go the way of the “alternative” artist and become more introspective than the most melodramatic teenagers (generally being the one that inspires them), and still others simply call it quits or tour until people stop caring. Set Your Goals have two full lengths behind them (as well as 3 EPs and a wealth of touring) and stand at this very fork in the road on Burning At Both Ends (out June 27 via Epitaph).

Much like their previous releases, Burning At Both Ends is an album that plays perfectly as an entire work, as well as individual tracks. It is this continued dedication to crafting each and every release so tightly that has always drawn me to Set Your Goals. Even though some may call this hybrid genre of pop punk and hardcore a bit “simple” at times, SYG push themselves to change how they present their band on every album and it all begins on Burning with the anthemic “Cure For Apathy.” The song’s genuine spirit and energy will instantly call to mind Mutiny‘s “Work In Progress,” only with nearly six years of experience added into the mix. You can feel the effect time has had not only on the themes and lyrics, but the way the band feels sonically as well. Determined and refined, yet still young and abrasive.

Continuing the theme of growth and self-actualization found on the opener, “Start The Reactor” might as well be the background music to every Warped Tour advertisement until the time. Likewise, “Certain” and “Happy New Year” talk of accountability and moving on with a fully mature pop punk backing no one will be able to deny.

As we near the album’s halfway point, there is a newfound sense of pop sensibility that cannot be denied. SYG have always been known for the big hooks, but these melodies will stay with you for days, even weeks after each listen. “Trenches” beats with the youthful intensity of teen dreamers, while “Exit Summer” is destined to be a live staple for the entirety of the band’s career. Pit-inducing verses with a hook that nearly demands lighters and fists be raised high (while bouncing up and down and going absolutely insane).

“Unconditional,” a song about staying true to those you love even when they fall down, ushers in the final chapter of Burning At Both Ends with hearts firmly fixed to SYG’s sleeves before “Product Of The 80’s” adds a funky bass line to lighten the mood. “Raphael ” and “Illuminated Youth” bring strong, self-actualized lyrics to the forefront and lead superbly into the near nineteen-minute closing song, “Not As Bad.” I’m sure you want the details of this epic track, but a song of this magnitude deserves to be heard before being discussed.

On Burning At Both Ends, Set Your Goals continue to set themselves apart from the rest of the pop punk world with anthems of youth, life on the road, and a level of social awareness that is second to none. This is the kind of album that defines Summer and stays with the listener for decades after. If you’ve ever considered yourself a “lifer” for the music industry or even considered a career in music, prepare to meet your new favorite album.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Dan Spam

    Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeee leak this album <3

  • i will not listen to this one in advance i will wait to get overwhelmed ^^

  • SsStumpp

    this album is fucking sick!

  • Dickmagnet

    Stop saying “self-actualized”.  

  • Gordon

    I have no idea what this guy is talking about, the album is mediocre at best.  If you liked “Mutiny!” or “This will be the Death of us” then you, if you’re like me, will hate this.  All the songs sound the same, if you thought there sound was too poppy before then wait till you get a load of this.  It’s probably comparable to the Four Year Strong’s “Enemy of the World” in the sense that you can’t really tell which song your listening to because they are all so similar, but no where near as good as that album.  With all that said the one thing that manages to keep this album’s head above water, which is the catchiness.  Oh god damn is it catchy, “product of the 80’s”, “Start the Reactor”, and “Certain” are the only songs worth listening to and that’s because of the catchiness.  Oh one more thing that stupid 19 minute “epic” closing track is the biggest load of horse shit I’ve ever had to wait around to listen to, it’s a song followed by about 10 mins of silence leading to cat meows.  If you want a good pop-punk band that are putting out legitimately good music, check out the Wonder Years if you haven’t already they are easily the best band within this genre.  

  • shoka1234

    This album is just as good as “enemy of the world”. I love four year strong but this band never gets the credit they deserve. the last song is the only one that i wouldn’t put on my ipod. They have gone from being a good hardcore/pop punk band to being a super catchy pop punk/rock band. They have been cleaner on each album just like blink 182 and its going to make something work, each album they put out i like more so simmer down bud.

  • Fouryearstrongew

    four year strong is awful.

  • HH

    This album’s totally sick and I’m soooo happy I bought it today :D I’ve been playing it on repeat and am loving it more and more each time I hear it. Buy this now! It’ll make your summer!

  • Abraham Lincoln

    I loved Mutiny! and This Will Be the Death of Us and, as a whole album, I like Burning at Both Ends more than both.  The songwriting is tighter and shows a greater grasp of actual composition skills.  Yeah, it’s a hell of a lot more melodic and there is no Gaia Bleeds on it, but as a whole this album outshines both Mutiny! and TWBtDoU.

  • Kadafi

    best pop-punk album of the year

  • Larro100

    bad bad bad bad album.