Published Nov 21, 2019This might sound odd, but in many ways Upset is a very systematic ensemble. For one, the band like to work in multiples of two — their debut, She's Gone, came out in 2013, and 76 followed two years later. Now four years have passed, and the pop punk quartet are back with Upset, abiding by the same undemanding musical formula as their previous works to maintain an upbeat vibe meant for easy listening.
Much of Upset's greatness lies in the voice of frontwoman Ali Koehler, drummer for Vivian Girls. In the opening lines of "No Exit," Koehler sings "I can't keep a secret to save my life," showcasing her vulnerability as though it is meant to be displayed to the world.
The album embraces the spirit of pop punk without much innovation — while it may be true that Upset know the genre inside and out, the sonic similarities between tracks can sometimes make for underwhelming moments.
This repetitiveness only begins to feel invasive for a brief instant before the switch-up of the project's last and longest song, "Tony's On the Pier." Turning the pop punk energy down a notch, Koehler tells a story about true love and real freedom over subtle acoustics and vocal harmonization.
Upset's eponymous album will certainly be enjoyed by many. The passion on this third effort is palpable, but fans may wish that the bandmates explored outside the box more frequently to evade the curse of monotony. (Lauren)