The Daily Gamecock

Pop-punk aims for ‘Legendary’

	<p>The Summer Set released its latest album, “Legendary,” Tuesday with Fearless Records, the home of Plain White T’s.</p>
The Summer Set released its latest album, “Legendary,” Tuesday with Fearless Records, the home of Plain White T’s.

It’s one of those bands that posted on a MySpace music page about a featured spot on PureVolume.

The music is infectious, a high-pitched pop punk with lyrics to match, and the melodies make for the perfect opening spot to a semi-big-time headliner.

Lead singer Brian Dales has played with the gel-sculpted faux-hawk and a popped jean jacket collar, and the whole act gets a big dose of cool points for their female drummer, Jess Bowen.

But still, in six official years in the mix, The Summer Set hasn’t broken through the undiscovered bubble — they’ve had some small-time success, but no paparazzi.

Bowen and the boys are putting the power in the name now, though, and switching things up in a new full-length: “Legendary,” released Tuesday.

The Summer Set has long released EPs and albums on Razor & Tie, a label out of New York that represents an eclectic list of artists: Madina Lake, Saves the Day and The Wiggles, just to name a few.

In its latest release, however, the band has switched to Fearless Records, a much more fitting group of names. The group sits between Forever the Sickest Kids, Plain White T’s and The Maine, all bands that would share the same music library.

On Tuesday morning, a day the band dubbed #Legendary Release Day early in the Twitter-sphere, the album dropped at No. 3 on iTunes’ pop charts and No. 9 overall. Yes, it was a bit surprising to me, too.

The Summer Set forever preserves high school years filled with local concerts and meet-and-greets by band’s T-shirt stands. That being said, it’s hard to judge the band’s musical prowess.

Dales sings with a voice perhaps most akin to a 16-year-old girl — It’s really impressive. He’s not bad, he’s in tune, even on acoustic videos, but his vocals fall into an auto-tuned sound without the auto-tune.

It’s like Taylor Swift sucked down a balloon full of helium and gave her best run at “22.”

Before you even open “Legendary,” you feel it. You feel the bubble gum and happiness and high-range harmonies. The album art is a makeshift Illuminati pyramid, outlined in pretty rainbow landscapes. Bowen has been calling Twitter followers who pre-ordered the album, and early-release music videos play with pastel-painted skies and sparklers.

The first track fits into the rainbow.

For the full effect, visit the Fearless Records YouTube page. The music video for “Maybe Tonight,” the opener, starts with a Dales monologue that sounds like something out of the tunnel in “Perks of Being A Wallflower.”

Walking in skinny jeans and a hoodie, he says: “That moment, of all moments, like there is music in the night and we can dance the sun out of the sky … Tonight we are more than just words on the page.”

It’s a little much. But the following song is solid.

“Jukebox (Life Goes On),” not so solid. The intro sounds like something off “Kidz Bop” — another winner signed to The Summer Set’s previous label, Razor & Tie — until you get to, “I need a Jameson shot of confidence.” It just doesn’t fit.

A few lines later: “I’m a little obsessed with Dawson’s Creek.”

And we’re on to the next one.

One of the album’s first singles was “Lightning In A Bottle.” It’s good. You’re “throwing your hearts in the air,” “dancing in the backseat,” generally just feeling like a carefree Summer Set Day. Then, boom, “Don’t give a f—k about tomorrow.” It’s really just jarring, like if you were rocking out to a great Hilary Duff track and 2 Chainz rolled in for a quick hook.

“Heart on the Floor” features a former contestant from “The Voice.”

One of the band members did some wrong in the game of love. The eloquently titled “F—k U Over” plays on the chorus, “We can rock the world tonight, but no, it doesn’t have to be love.”

“The Way We Were” is more heartfelt, probably not about the same lucky girl or guy from the previously mentioned number.

The album leaves on the same unsure note as before. A lot of the song beginnings set up a promising run. Dales sets up a definite style, some expectations and a learned kind of appreciation.

But the little jerks and unexpected f-bombs thrown into the lyrical mix don’t fit the feeling.

Bringing a harder, more grown-up edge to a sound that sticks to those high school shows is a hard tackle, and The Summer Set fell short of “Legendary.”