For Fans Of
I absolutely commend Turnover for continually cultivating their alt-rock and pop-punk origins with each subsequent record, moving ever deeper into indie-rock and dream-pop territories over the last six years. They’re clearly a band who wish to keep moving forward with their sound in one way or another, and I can really appreciate the growth that their music displays every two years with each new full-length release. Keeping in mind 2015’s much-lauded ‘Peripheral Vision‘ and 2017’s ‘Good Nature,’ their newest album, ‘Altogether,’ perhaps isn’t the biggest change of direction that fans could imagine. Rather, it’s simply a continuation of what their previous two – and biggest – albums heralded, just a little slower, more varied, and even more subdued. It’s the next natural step for the U.S. trio’s hazy, dream-pop trajectory, with added hints of pop, surf-rock, dark post-punk, sexy R&B, chirpy 80s new-wave, and even some disco.
However, in my mind, Turnover’s latest and saddest-sounding effort may just be the sleepiest release that I’ve found all year. This is “easy” listening if I’ve ever heard it. ‘Altogether,’ in terms of tone, intrigue, and dynamics, constantly sounds like it’s sitting in that horribly weird mid-point between being wide-awake and falling asleep; the musical embodiment of when your eyelids feel so heavy yet you keep jolting yourself awake just as you start to drift off. It’s like driving whilst tired; you need to take a 15-minute power-nap just to get through the whole bloody stint.
The album’s title is quite fitting due to its consistency of sound, as there is just the one particular moody, dreamy indie-rock sound adhered to; everything does sit together on the same level. By that same token, ‘Altogether‘ is an extremely one-note experience. Barring the shakers and bongos on the funky ‘Sending Me Right Back,’ the trumpets that are paired with the roomy vocals on decent opener ‘Still In Motion,’ and the jazzier trumpets on the painfully-short album stand-out ‘Ceramic Sky,’ these songs bleed heavily into one another. With an eerily similar songwriting feel, dead-pan timbres, repetitive structures, and these lethargic, slow-to-mid-pace tempos, few tracks on Turnover’s fourth LP differentiate themselves from each other. Which is odd, given the wide breadth of the band’s genre diversity here.
Going into this album, expect droves of chorus-drenched guitar chords; Austin Getz’s soft, straight-faced, and monotone vocals drifting over these songs; as well as Casey Getz’s simple yet tasteful drum patterns. None of those aspects are bad in of themselves, it’s just that with ten songs closely following that template, even in just ticking over half an hour long, it grows tiresome quickly. This is a record that doesn’t build much or really go anywhere the longer you trek through it. If it were a couple of singles or a five-track EP, ‘Altogether‘ would perhaps have more weight and result in a bigger impact on me.
The vision of ‘Altogether‘ is to be chill, relaxed, and subtle, yet maybe too much so at many points. As it can be an uneventful listen, where things often sound and feel somewhat lifeless, like the band is going through the motions. Making this kind of music stick out and be engaging can be tricky to get right, and that’s not to say that this is a terrible album, but ‘Altogether‘ does suffer from a real lack of energy and drive. A great example of achieving just that is the recently released Greet Death LP, for something fresher and fuzzier, and Deafcult’s radiant 2017 LP, ‘Auras‘, as an Aussie-based, more shoegaze-y example.
With the production from Will Yip, ‘Altogether‘ clearly nails what Turnover are aiming for in terms of stylistic nostalgia and a musical time-and-place, with excellent instrumentation, yet the vocal melodies and choruses are quite forgettable. It’s the opposite of what their other records do well; hooking you in with these intoxicating, engaging refrains and vocal lines. Austin isn’t a bad singer, far from it, it’s just how he’s delivered and compacted his own vocals with the rest of the record’s arrangements where it just hasn’t really come together. And as a result, that holds back the romantically depressed and depressingly romantic lyricism that drives the themes of this LP forward. Though, shout-out to ‘Number On The Gate,’ a vibrant number that contains the LP’s strongest, mos ear-worming chorus and which threatens to liven up the records heart-rate from near-death to that of a slow, steady flutter.
There’s also just some weird choices too. For one, there’s the abrupt fade-out that suddenly wraps up ‘Still In Motion,’ sounding like the band had no clue how to actually finish it. My go-to song is by far ‘Ceramic Sky,’ yet it ends just before the two-minute mark and could’ve easily used an extra minute or so tacked to better flesh it out. Then on the flip side, the very next song, ‘Valley of the Moon‘ is at least a minute too long for what it is overall, sitting at just under five minutes. This truly is one of those middle-of-the-road releases where once the finale arrives – the melancholy pop sounds of ‘Temporary Love‘ – I don’t feel like anything new was learned or gained, nor that the album went anywhere overly meaningful or memorable. (Kinda like my reviews.) All I’m left thinking in the end is: “Yep, that sure was music.“
‘Altogether’ is an album where you need to be in the “right” mood, in the “correct” headspace. As a result, some will automatically click with Turnover’s latest, whereas others will never find the time or heart for it. As it’s an album that has a particular moody sound for a particular kind of listener. While I’m sure some fans will find it pretty goddamn boring, I also think just as many, if not more of their audience, will warm to it quite well. And I can see those whose first introduction to Turnover is this latest album really loving it too. It’s a record for quiet nights at home alone, for forlorn train rides, for late-night drives spent in reverie to distract yourself from the mundane sights; ‘Altogether’ isn’t a record for just any moment nor for just any time of day. And that’s totally fine! Yet for me, this was mostly just the boring, elevator music equivalent of an indie-rock/dream-pop variety; background music that I might put on whilst doing something far more interesting with my time. Turnover’s execution of these ten songs is never poor, but its also never that great either. Big kudos to Turnover for experimenting with new sounds and genres, but to be terribly blunt, this is a bit of a snoozefest.
- Still In Motion
- Much After Feeling
- Number on the Gate
- Sending Me Right Back
- Ceramic Sky
- Valley of the Moon
- No Reply
- Plant Sugar
- Temporary Love
‘Altogether’ is out now: