Pop-punk dominated the airwaves in the early part of this decade, thanks to bands such as Sum 41, New Found Glory and Simple Plan. Although emo/screamo and its black-clad minions seemed to push aside the pogoing masses, the genre never really went away—and now, with Blink-182’s reunion tour, pop-punk seems primed for a mainstream resurgence.
Enter Set Your Goals, a Bay Area sextet poised to break out with This Will Be the Death of Us. The band’s fantastic Epitaph Records debut and second LP overall takes its cues from Blink and Sum 41’s penchant for dueling harmonies and scrappy vocals (see highlight “Summer Jam”). But Death’s hardcore-influenced moments are absolutely monstrous: The title track and “The Few That Remain”—the latter of which has a killer cameo from Paramore vocalist Hayley Williams —feature rowdy gang vocals, blasting breakdowns and quicksilver tempos. Even better is the colossal-sized “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man),” a shredder with menacing snarls, screaming riffs and drilling drums.
In other hands, this juxtaposition of hardcore and pop-punk could be generic or sloppy. But Death seamlessly veers between goofball and growling—and is accessible without being slick or contrived. The sleeper hit of 2009 so far.