When Set It Off released its then latest album, Midnight in 2019, the band wasted little time following up its release with new music. Only months after releasing the record – which itself was quite successful – the band started releasing a series of b-sides from that record for what it dubbed the After Midnight EP. Now more than two years after all of that rook place has completed the Midnight cycle by releasing Midnight (The Final Chapter). The 21-song record features acoustic re-works of three songs featured in Midnight – ‘Killer in the Mirror,’ ‘Lonely Dance,’ and ‘Happy All The Time’ – as well as the songs that made up the initial After Midnight EP – ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ ‘So Predictable,’ and ‘One Single Second.’ The acoustic takes are themselves reason enough for audiences to hear this latest offering from Set It Off. They will be discussed shortly. The b-sides from the After Midnight EP are just as worth noting. They will be discussed a little later. The fact that the record also features Midnight in its entirety rounds out the most important of the album’s factors. When this is considered along with the other noted items here, the whole makes the record a fitting end to an era (as the band called it through official posts to its Facebook page) and not the end to the band. God forbid that is the case, if it is, then it would be a strong final statement from the band.
Set It Off’s Midnight re-issue, Midnight (The Final Chapter), is a strong way to end the band’s current era, as it hopefully prepares to start its next era together. That is proven in part through the acoustic songs that make up part of the record’s body. The songs in question are alternate takes of songs featured in Midnight. The songs – three in all – are important to note because of the new identities that they give the songs. Case in point is the acoustic take of ‘Killer in the Mirror,’ which itself was one of the singles produced from Midnight. The original song is a powerful, upbeat work that presents the song’s subject as someone who is racked with self-doubt and emotion. This acoustic update takes that self-doubt and emotion in a completely different direction with the use of the piano and strings alongside front man Cody Carson’s powerful, bittersweet vocal delivery. The subtle use of what sounds like rods or brushes on the snare as the song reaches its climax adds even more to the mix. The whole takes listeners in a whole new direction and translates the song’s message just as well as the original take in its own powerful way.
‘Lonely Dance,’ another of Midnight’s singles, also gets the acoustic re-imagining here. As with the acoustic take of ‘Killer in the Mirror,’ this take gives the song a whole new identity. According to Carson, the original composition was meant to be “the anthem of the introvert.” This more subdued take really captures what introverts go through daily just as much as the song’s original take. The energy in the original take exhibits the sense of confusion that introverts feel in wanting to be alone, but also knowing it’s not “normal” according to society. The more subdued strings and piano approach in the acoustic take gives that dichotomy of emotions and thoughts even more of a bittersweet emotion. It really makes that situation in which so many people find themselves daily more relatable. That is because there is such a stigma attached to introversion to this day. Keeping that in mind, this updated, acoustic take of ‘Lonely Dance’ makes even clearer why the acoustic updates featured in this re-issue so important to the record’s presentation.
The band’s updates take of ‘Happy All The Time,’ which features a guest appearance by Compton Kidz Club and Skyler Acord, is just as enjoyable as the song’s original take. The horns in the original song are replaced here with an equally light piano line. The choral element from the original is carried over here to make the acoustic take uplifting, too. Speaking honestly, the updated, acoustic take can actually be argued to be even more enjoyable than the original, and the original is enjoyable in its own right. To that end, it is even more proof of the importance of the acoustic takes featured in Midnight (The Final Chapter). When it and the other two acoustic takes are considered collectively, they make for a wonderful addition to the re-issue and plenty of reason in themselves for audiences to own this record. The three b-sides featured as part of the whole add their own interest and appeal to the presentation.
The b-sides featured in this re-issue are important to note because they exhibit the same kind of pop punk sound that composes so much of the body of Midnight. The catchy hooks and choruses are there in all three songs while the lyrical themes are just as accessible. ‘Catch Me If You Can’ is perhaps the best of that trio of songs. That is thanks to its lyrical theme centered on what Carson pointed out “is that quintessential middle finger to anyone who doubted you or really wronged you in life or in your pursuit of your dreams.” That uplifting message and equally infectious musical arrangement makes one wonder why this song was not featured as part of Midnight’s original release.
‘So Predictable’ boasts its own identity from ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ Where the prior song boasted a more modern pop punk style and sound, this song’s musical arrangement boasts more of an 80s pop-influenced sound in its musical arrangement. The pairing of that influence with the more modern pop punk influence makes it another intriguing addition to the record. That musical presentation in itself makes clear in itself why the bonus songs are a positive addition to the re-issue. The song’s lyrical theme, which according to Carson, focuses on those difficult relationships that we have with our loved ones, makes for even more interest here. “We’ve all been there before — same argument, same issue, same nonsense, different day,” he said. “This is one of those songs written out of complete frustration of those kinds of moments — whether it be someone you love who you butt heads with or someone so irritating yet you can’t avoid them.” This shows even more why this song is in itself a positive addition to the presentation. When it is considered along with ‘Catch Me If You Can,’ the pair shows quite clearly why the b-sides overall are so important to the record’s presentation.
‘One Single Second,’ the third of the b-sides featured in the record, shows even more why the b-sides are important to the re-issue’s presentation. That pop punk sensibility exhibited in the other two b-sides is just as evident here as in those works. The equally accessible lyrical theme about a broken relationship (according to Carson, again) will resonate with listeners, too. “For this song, I brought myself back to one of my worst memories of relationships I can remember — the first time I got cheated on by my first love,” he said. “The entire song is basically telling the story of how I felt the connection fade and started putting the pieces together. It’s got that angst, that aggression that mysterious feeling of ‘Do I know for sure?’ ‘Do I not know at all?’ I think a lot of you have been betrayed like this before, and this is the song you can hold onto to let it all out.” Keeping this in mind, there is no doubt why this song will connect with audiences. When it is considered with the other two b-sides, the whole leaves zero doubt as to why that content makes the record so enjoyable. When the b-sides and acoustic takes are considered together, they make even clearer why this re-issue stands out among its counterparts so far this year. They are only a part of what makes the record a notable presentation. The addition of the original Midnight album rounds out the most important of the album’s elements.
The pairing of the original Midnight album with the noted bonus content is important to note because it brings every bit of the album’s cycle full circle. It gives all of the band’s fans the complete listening experience in one presentation. This way, audiences who perhaps did not get their hands on the After Midnight EP or Midnight the chance to own Midnight in its final, complete form. Now the normal rebuttal from some will be that maybe they already own one or the other title, or even both. Given, it would seem pointless to purchase this record with that being the case. Here again though is the reality that this “final” presentation of Midnight brings both the album and EP together into one setting. That means audiences can enjoy both presentations together in one platform. There is no going from one record to the other. It is all in one place. Keeping that in mind, the presentation of the original album with the EP here proves its importance to the whole. To that end, this element completes the re-issue’s presentation and shows once and for all why this record is a successful presentation.
Set It Off’s newly released presentation that is Midnight (The Final Chapter) is a work that will appeal to any of the band’s established audiences and new audiences. It is a fitting finale to the band’s Midnight era, but hopefully not to the band. The record’s success is shown in part through the acoustic songs featured as part of the record’s body. They take three of the songs featured in the original album and give them a whole new life and identity. The b-sides also featured as part of the record’s body add their own appeal. They are just as appealing as the songs that made the final cut what with their familiar musical arrangements and equally accessible lyrical themes. The presentation of the original album along with that extra content brings everything together, giving the record a complete presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation. All things considered, they make the record in whole a strong end to the band’s Midnight era and gives hope that the band has more eras to come. Midnight (The Final Chapter) is available now through Fearless Records.
More information on Midnight (The Final Chapter) is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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