Set Your Goals - Burning at Both Ends (Cover Artwork)

Set Your Goals

Set Your Goals: Burning at Both EndsBurning at Both Ends (2011)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 3
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Set Your Goals have been navigating treacherous waters from Day 1. After a demo that reignited a scene of full bands with equal reverence for Lifetime, New Found Glory and Saves the Day, the band stuck their necks out and hit it out of the park with their 2006 full-length, Mutiny!, eschewing a trend.
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Set Your Goals have been navigating treacherous waters from Day 1. After a demo that reignited a scene of full bands with equal reverence for Lifetime, New Found Glory and Saves the Day, the band stuck their necks out and hit it out of the park with their 2006 full-length, Mutiny!, eschewing a trendy style on a qualitative descent in favor of dynamic, ambitious songwriting and raw sincerity. Somewhere along the way, the band's fanbase seemed to split between those who grew up on the band's own, more melodic hardcore-oriented influences, and those who think A Day to Remember is the bee's knees. 2009's This Will Be the Death of Us offered something for both parties. So where does the band's newest effort, Burning at Both Ends, head?

Actually, Burning at Both Ends more closely follows the mid-tempo bounce of Death's "Summer Jam", then adds plenty of gloss across the board. It's pop-punk in the most modern sense, and while its favored production tricks and slower tempos will likely find the band's old fans hanging on by fingernails letting go completely, it avoids the cheese just enough to remain worthwhile...relatively, anyway.

While Death felt largely uneven but still offered knockouts like "This Will Be the Death of Us" and The Fallen...", the highlights on Both Ends only manage to stand out marginally. In opener "Cure for Apathy", Jordan Brown shows how the band's early and primary influences stay true to their core as he cops Tom Delonge's enunciations–as he did for Mutiny! opener "Work in Progress"–for his chorus couplet ("There will be wisdom here in time / and all the stars will be aligned"). "Start the Reactor" is chock full of mostly questionable popcore mosh chugging and basted in vocal effects, but it also has one of Matt Wilson's better performances to date, and the melodies are 100%...competent. You could mostly say the same for cuts like "London Heathrow" and "The Last American Virgin", for all (or in spite of) their radio-friendly guitar tones and maxed-out volume mastering. "Exit Summer" and "Illuminated Youth" are the few moments you get faster tempos, but the former slows it down for a pogo-ing chorus, and neither feel as exhilarating as the band's earlier attempts at melodic hardcore speed.

Lyrically, the band's tackling their familiar stable of themes: motivation; self-esteem maintenance; moving forward; et. al. But there's a few questionable moments. On "London Heathrow", Browns offers the simile, "I rocket back to the earth like an alien," and even as one of the album's biggest hooks, it feels cartoony. Moreover, years ago the band's most seething critics would likely lump them in with a goofball gimmick act like Bowling for Soup, a relatively harsh exaggeration. With "Product of the 80's", it's no longer that far-fetched–this track's essentially an extension of that band's biggest hit, "1985". It's an odd moment for a band built so firmly on a foundation of hardcore-based positivity, offering little besides a platform for Brown and Wilson to drop more pop culture references than "My Name Is".

Although Burning at Both Ends is Set Your Goals' sophomore effort for Epitaph, it feels like the major label debut in many ways. The pop-rock acts the band's found themselves touring alongside the last few years are quickly becoming their contemporaries–Set Your Goals are just writing better songs, thankfully. One can only hope they find a way to stay that course, since they've seemed to slip off the other one.

Burning at Both Ends


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
insinceredave (July 1, 2011)

Hhmm well i've given it a listen and I gotta say i'm not feeling it at all. Its sounds over produced and a little forced. Oh dear.

davebrave4 (July 1, 2011)

I've always had a love/hate relationship with this band. I fear this record will make me lean toward hate.

And for the record, "grammar police" dude, neither similes nor metaphors have anything to do with grammar.

MilkyJoe (June 30, 2011)

It Must Really Rule to Be Four Year Strong Right Now

Dycelot (June 30, 2011)

i hate to say it, but to point out a trend i've noticed on this website over the last few months, at what point does "writing better songs" become a useless statement? As an historically left minded website it's too bad that "commercially viable" has become synonymous with "better". This album is BORING, and not only did I like Mutiny!, but I also have a copy of the previous e.p. and loved "This Will Be The Death Of Us". What happened? Also questionable is the Tom Delonge reference. Brief Blink 182 history: decent band until Enema of the State, when they became "commercially viable". Started turning things around with Take Off Your Pants and Jacket, and officially became a good band with the self titled, (which was strangely hated). I don't see the comparison here, other than the stereotypical punk rock vocal cadence that you could arguably compare to EVERY pop punk band, not just what you hear with these bands. I do mildly agree with the review, but I digress: it's even worse. Every generation of punk rock has a fraction of its value deducted when time adds the desire to "grab that cash with both hands and make a stack". I would argue that the cute recordings that ensue are by no means better.

moneenerd (June 29, 2011)

I listened to it in it's entirety only once when it was streaming online, and I have no real enthusiasm for sitting through it again. This review hits the nail right on the head. It seems like SYG has grown confused after MUTINY! which is one of my all time favorite records.

jo_punk_promoter (June 28, 2011)

It's definitly a huge letdown. I really like/love all their previous stuff, but this one is just good and they can do way better than that. I'm still gonna listen to Burning at Both Ends once in a while, because some tracks are still great, but it's definitly not gonna get as many spins as Mutiny, Reset or This Will Be The Death of Us. At least the new records from The Wonder Years, The Story So Far, Fireworks and Living With Lions are all great, so 2011 is still pretty good for that kind of pop punk.

icapped2pac (June 28, 2011)

Such a bummer. I like their enthusiasm & sincerity, but I agree the glossy sound and the vocal cadence are too much to take. And upon the first (and only) listen I also thought of Bowling For Soup. How embarrassing.

NewKid (June 28, 2011)


Give me The Wonder Years.


8bitlife (June 28, 2011)

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!

robalobadob (June 28, 2011)

Grammar Police: "That's not a metaphor! It's a simile!"

oldpunkerforever (June 28, 2011)

Four stars for Pistol grip. I was listening to Another round this am, followed that up w Bouncing Souls. My commute is to darn long but it gives me time to listen to great music, unlike these guys, not so much-oldpunker-

lowlight (June 28, 2011)

this is so incredibly mediocre it's unbelievable.

alien (June 28, 2011)

it's good, but disappointing. Needs much less poppy-hardcore moments.
I wish they played only like the fast songs from death and it was more like mutiny.

The review sums it up pretty good.

exitenglish1208 (June 28, 2011)

this record wasn't as bad as i thought it would be based on the tracks the released, it's pretty listenable, but it's still very much nothing to write home about and nothing compared to mutiny, which is a shame. I agree with the "feels like a major label debut" sentiment also

mattp330 (June 28, 2011)

i think its better then "death of us". i like that they ditched all the guest vocalists (for the most part), but alternative press put "product of the 80's" as the best track. the song isn't funny, or tongue in cheek, or bring back fond memories, its like a bowling for soup b-side

you_are_a_loser (June 28, 2011)

I found this album to be very generic and kind of boring. It does sound like a major label debut, for sure. Yeah, there are a few good songs, but overall it's not worth it.

wearestillalive (June 28, 2011)

Yeah, good review. Don't think I'll be listening to this off the back of it. Loved Mutiny and I was so excited for Death only to be pretty let down. I think I am done with this band now.

Rodeo (June 28, 2011)

Agreed, I was a Reset/ Mutiny fan, so this review actually does make me want to hear it.... if only for nostalgia's sake! So, well done!

insinceredave (June 28, 2011)

Good review, in a way its made me more curious about the sound of the record. Well done

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