Turnover shows a clear concern for aesthetic on ‘Altogether’

Matt Campbell

For the last 10 years, the Virginia-born band Turnover has dominated the world of pop-punk with their diverse catalogue. On “Altogether,” Turnover continues to experiment with dream-pop and shoegaze, delivering a record that’s perfect for listening to while getting high or doing something else.

Since 2013, Turnover has remained a constant in the Boston record label Run For Cover Records’ lineup. Their debut full-length record, “Magnolia,” seemed to fit in with the heavy and abrasive sound coming from label-mates Citizen and Basement that helped create a new wave of emo and pop-punk.

Ad

Turnover’s decided shift in tone, however, was reflected on their 2015 record, “Peripheral Vision.” Like Title Fight’s “Hyperview” and Ceremony’s “The L-Shaped Man,” Turnover demonstrated a departure from fast, angry and to-the-point pop-punk to a dreamy haze of twinkly guitars and atmospheric sonic textures.

The impact of “Peripheral Vision” was one of unexpected magnitude and importance. It helped Turnover establish themselves as a diverse band whose music could be enjoyed by both fans of hardcore and pop-punk, as well as fans who preferred the softer indie rock.

In the time since “Peripheral Vision,” the band comfortably experimented with different sub-genres of dream pop, incorporating elements of jazz and bossa nova into their sound. 2017’s “Good Nature” was a bright and happy record that seemed like an ode to the sunshine and the summer, as opposed to “Peripheral Vision,” which plays like a concept album of someone coming to terms with a long-gone relationship.

“Altogether,” the band’s fourth release with Run For Cover Records, is an album that feels more in line with contemporary dream pop and bedroom pop musicians like Rex Orange County and Boy Pablo, sounding somewhere between where they have been and where they want to be.

If “Altogether” should be pigeon-holed into any genre, it should be muzak, a form of music meant to be neutral and played in the background of elevators, shopping malls and retail stores.”

The opener to “Altogether,” “Still In Motion,” incorporates saxophone and washed-out vocals to create what can only be described as a “new jazz” aesthetic before barreling into a steady and hazy groove that seems fitting for much of Turnover’s recent material.

“Much After Feeling,” one of two initial singles to be released for the album earlier this year, seems to borrow from the VHS aesthetic: a lo-fi sound similar to vaporwave, a genre popularized by underground artists such as Macintosh Plus. The song rides out in a wash of reverb and synthesizers before transitioning into “Parties.”

“Number On The Gate” is a song that, for better or for worse, sounds exactly like Mac DeMarco’s chorus and plinky guitar-driven sound all over his tracks “2” and “Salad Days.” It is accompanied by “Sending Me Right Back,” which starts with a catchy bongo beat and adds to the “muzak” nature of the record.

At the middle of the album sits the shortest song, “Ceramic Sky,” which incorporates heavy saxophone and more washed-out vocals. The song is short, sweet and unmistakably vaporwave.

Perhaps the most interesting song on the record is “Plant Sugar,” a two-minute tune that rides on driving bass and steady drums, accented by a new wave-inflected and oddly catchy guitar melody. The album ends on “Temporary Love,” a jazzy ballad that fades off into nothing, ending the record on a similar note to where it started: steady and uninteresting.

One constant that has remained in Turnover’s extreme transition from pop-punk to dream pop is lead singer Austin Getz’s sultry vocal delivery. His performance is controlled and fluid, contrary to the band’s earlier works in which he demonstrated a talent for higher-pitched and raspy pop-punk vocals. This complements the new material well and allows Getz’s jazz and pop influences to be displayed in full.

Ad

If “Altogether” should be pigeon-holed into any genre, it should be muzak, a form of music meant to be neutral and played in the background of elevators, shopping malls and retail stores. Each song doesn’t bring much to the table and seems to borrow from many of the more interesting acts that Turnover has been bringing on tour.

It appears as though Turnover continues to stray from what has made their earlier works so important in pop-punk and, later, shoegaze. “Altogether” demonstrates a point in Turnover’s career that’s full of experimentation and brilliant ideas that never really develop much past what sounds like GarageBand loops. Still, “Altogether” has its moments. The clear influences of jazz make this record different than much of what Turnover’s contemporaries have released in many of the past several years.

It is apparent that Turnover is progressing as a band and is taking their music into sonic territory that remains relatively unexplored by pop-punk bands who grew up in the scene. Regardless, “Altogether” is an album that seems more focused on its aesthetic than on delivering the deep, introspective and personal music that the band has been known for.

Turnover will return to The Gothic Theater on Dec. 4 in support of “Altogether” with Men I Trust and Renata Zeiguer.

Rating: 5/10

Matt Campbell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @mcampnh