REVIEW: The Summer Set – Legendary

the summer set

Artist: The Summer Set
Album: Legendary
Genre: Pop/rock
Label: Fearless Records

Legendary has been timed perfectly. Arriving just on the cusp of summer, this is a bright and shining example of infectious pop. It’s clear, it’s hearty, it’s upbeat, and it’s utterly shameless in its pursuit of feelgood anthems. There’s more colour packed into this record than some bands manage in their entire careers. It feels like disposable fluff but in the most delicious way, evoking images of warm summer nights and fond friendships as it powers along. I do confess that my years as a music reviewer have made me somewhat jaded and cynical; one too many idealistic screamo types and derivative pop punk bands tend to be wearing on the soul. It can be difficult to warm to even the most likeable of artists, which is why Legendary is all the more refreshing and enjoyable. It’s possessed of a deliriously uninhibited spirit and delivers all its tracks with enthusiasm and gusto.

The Summer Set, on their fourth full-length, have taken their reputation for soaring pop tracks and pushed it to the limits. Every song on here comes laced with wide-eyed glee and spirit and there’s barely anything to dislike. “Maybe Tonight” sets the template early and the others follow suit. A bracing blast of a song, it’s uplifting and catchy and tinged with a hopeful sheen. The chorus is big and vibrant and the reckless abandon of Brian Dales’ vocals is infectious. “Jukebox (Life Goes On)” serenades the healing power of rock ‘n’ roll in a cheerful, optimistic song about staying strong and carrying on. “Boomerang” is pristine and wholesome, alive and electric and exuberant in its appeal.

Barely any of the songs stray from this mould – every song is as brash and bright as the next. There’s a pleasing sense of frivolity to it all, as even when the lyrics ostensibly talk back to or profane someone, it’s flippant and light-hearted. “Fuck U Over” is a fine example, a bracing number that’s about as far removed from the self-indulgent squalling of most scene bands as you can get. It has a curious air of fondness and warmth despite its subject matter, with the twinkling hint of piano keys somewhere in the background evoking tenderness or innocence. Dia Frampton’s dulcet tones bring added sparkle to “Heart on the Floor” while “Happy For You” brings things down a notch; the noticeably tempered pace fitting its heartfelt tone.

The band take a more thoughtful approach on a number of the later tracks, distinguishing the album’s second half from its breathless opening. It feels more organic and dressed-down as the songs turn inward, reflecting and idealising with the doe-eyed optimism of youth. “7 Days” is a particular delight in this respect. It has the lilting rhythm of a conventional pop song, but there’s something alluring about its soft beats and dreamy vocalising. “Someday” marries the driven feeling of the album’s first half with the more romanticised aspects of the later songs. It’s an arresting and momentous song, the determined lyrics building to a big sweeping chorus that wraps the listener in an infectious allure of fearless longing. The title track brings the record to an apt conclusion. It has as light a touch as the other songs, but comes from a more subdued, pensive place. The percussion is lively and heartening and keeps the song rolling comfortably onward before it fades out on an open, dreamy note.

Wrapped in the warm glow of an almost poignant nostalgia, the sweetness and light of Legendary cannot be overstated. It’s a terrific blend of the sentimental and the exuberant with all the wide-ranging appeal of a mainstream pop album. Writing heartwarming tracks such as these isn’t necessarily difficult but making them sound this sincere and affectionate takes skill, and The Summer Set’s ability to enrapture through sheer earnestness of feeling is rare indeed.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

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  • Truth Reviews

    If the album’s opening track “Maybe Tonight” wasn’t enough a hint that The Summer Set masturbates to thoughts of Top 40 stardom, you certainly deserve this 45 minute attempt to be “the next big thing,” titled ‘Legendary.’

    Legendary? That’s a pretty strong title for anyone to live up to, but with the convenience of falling back on How I Met Your Mother, the band has given themselves a bit of a safety net. And truly, this album is anything but. A mere attempt to capitalize on the success of bands like Fun. and One Direction, minus the sound of actual instruments. Using the self-proclaimed genre of “emo-pop,” the band tries to lure you in with promises of musical angst with upbeat overtones. But really you only get the latter.

    A lot of albums have that one song diverging from the rest, and it really stands out as a song that’s accessible to anybody. In Legendary’s case, every song is making that attempt. Each song feels like it’s trying too hard to be a hit. Drums? What are those? Let’s use the latest app on my iPad. It’s just as good, right?

    Looking at the band’s lead tracks, “Boomerang,” “Fuck U Over,” and “Lightning in a Bottle,” you can hear the desperation.
    “Boomerang”: Name dropping so much, the lyrics literally depend on it. Jay-Z, Beyonce, Audrey Hepburn, James Dean, L.A., New York. While there’s some substance to the verses, the writing is still about as good as a high school love letter.

    “Fuck U Over”: We’ve all been there. An asshole to the opposite sex. And this song really tries to be an anthem for those who make this a regular habit. Though it’s an attempt to be edgy, the song is so infused with overproduced pop, only 13 year olds will love this song while they “hit it & quit it.”

    “Lightning in a Bottle”: The true stand out track, well above “Boomerang.” But the repeating “Hearts in the air” seems like the new “Put your hands in the air.” Fans can chant it and feel like their having the greatest dance party party ever. But, once again, trying so hard to be a party anthem it crumbles as a comparison to it’s already established Top 40 counterparts.

    If you’re looking for a fresh new addition to your tween pop collection, because you’ve worn out your One Direction, Justin Beiber and Jonas Brothers playlists, maybe this album for you. But as a creative effort that stands on it’s own, this album certainly falls short. And if you love Lengendary, chances are you’re either an 8th grade girl or duped into loving it because you were a fan of previous efforts. Or maybe you’ve been a One Direction fan all along and are just now realizing it.

    Be sure to to catch The Summer Set on tour this summer with similar artist Carly Rae Jepsen.

  • fist bump to you, mister/miss Guest. I listened to this album and had a “Damn kids” moment. Tween Terrors 2K13. From the lyrics to general sound I wasn’t impressed.