Record Setter’s latest LP I Owe You Nothing is both an attack to the senses and thrill to the heartstrings. The Renton, Texas based quartet has been known for their blistering post-hardcore and emo sound. This record is no exception, although the focus for I Owe You Nothing looks to be on the heavier side of these genres.
This record is an all out bombardment of sound — the frenzied guitars, ear-splitting drums, rollicking bass and the harsh vocal screams all coalesce into a hurricane of noise and introspection. The band doesn’t shy away from channeling in all of their emotions into their instruments, their anxieties, fears and insecurities all boiling into a melting pot of volatile rage and frustration.
The LP starts with a group of songs that all form into a three-act structure. “Someplace” crashes in with urgency and drive. The same energy fuels into “Sometimes”, where vocalist Judy Mitchell declares :“sometimes I feel like I’ll never fit.” A breakdown appears by its midsection – a short respite where the guitars calm down and Mitchell cheekily chants “I’m not emotive enough”. “Hummus” ties up the whole trilogy, elevating the aggression again before proudly declaring: “I feel like I’ve been vindicated and my voice is clear” by the end.
This trifecta dictates the overall tone of the album. Although there are a few moments of calm where the guitars come clean and Mitchell’s voice drops to a quiver, these moments are few and far between. Yet these glimpses of silence are what elevate the heavy parts. Such is the case for “Present Tense” where the band feels like they’ve sobered up and stopped to collect their thoughts before escalating into a fit of rage at the very end.
Tracks like “An Impression” and “An Explanation” shifts the band into more melodic territory, which owes more to their post-hardcore influence. This midpoint feels relatively mellow, but there’s a lingering feeling that this is merely the calm before the storm.
And it is indeed. The later “Future Tense” serves as a setup for the coup de grâce. In it Record Setter adapts an atmospheric vibe, with the line “We’re still talking in circles” drones through the track as it brims with energy for a grand finale. “Fail and Fall” closes the LP with a 6 minute epic, a culmination of the whole record which embraces the failure and the triumph as the band asks: “Is there beauty in my ruin?”. Judging by how it led to the creation of this record, I dare say there is.