Though it’s a warm and often gentle record, not much about Turnover's Peripheral Vision is subtle. Start with the cover, which is a pretty girl in a field, her image washed out, soaked in amber and obscured by a spiderwebbed glass. She’s real, but she’ll be forever out of reach, and this is exactly the kind of feeling Turnover evoke over and over again here, with just enough reverb and treated guitar to create distance and depth around every pensive daydream. If you’re into the idea of planning a mix to commemorate the girl that will get away, there's about seven songs here that can get you started.
Quite the coincidence that Peripheral Vision shares a very similar name as Title Fight’s risky, triumphant reinvention Hyperview, as well as its producer. In each instance, a traditionalist punk band goes headfirst into more aqueous forms of indie rock, but retain qualities which put them at an advantage over the countless wan, limp bands who decided to sound like the Smiths from the beginning.
In Turnover's case, their pop punk past is nipping at their heels: Their self-titled debut EP justly earned the tag, and even after 2013’s Magnolia smoothed out some of their more Warped Tour affectations, they were doing shows with Dashboard Confessional 2.0, This Wild Life, and the perpetually short-pantsed, hair-gelled schlubs in New Found Glory as recently as last month. But you can tell that they come to their new sound from a realm that prizes vocal, lyrical and sonic clarity—Austin Getz's vocals are unusually upfront and legible for this style of music, and Will Yip’s production is crystalline and sleek. "Radio-friendly" is mostly theoretical in 2015, but Yip tends to work with bands who've managed to find young, dedicated, merch-buying audiences who still believe in the idea of big-tent alternative rock as a refuge.
And so you hear a lot of atypically crowd-pleasing, extroverted maneuvers here—the gorgeous opening reverie of "Cutting My Fingers Off" is blown open by a bridge of pulse-quickening drum rolls similar to Brand New’s "Sic Transit Gloria…" or any given Explosions in the Skysong. The chorus of "Take My Head" is florid, AP English self-pity delivered as a pop punk shout-along, "Humming" is sophisticated bedsit pop that expresses the same desires as "Dixieland Delight" or "Chattahoochee", minus the geographical signifiers.
But just as often, the gap between where Turnover is and where they want to be is painfully obvious. Throughout, Getz's lyrics are either effective or seriously awkward and there’s very little in between. He's earnest enough when he's fussing over his transition into adulthood ("New Scream", "Hello Euphoria"), but just as often, he's reading off Robert Smith flashcards, his imagery full of dissolution, disintegration, dizziness, disappearance and descent—you get pretty much all of the above during "Dizzy on the Comedown", which reveals the wisdom of bands like Wild Nothing who purposefully go blank on lyrics.
Despite its stylistic reverence, Peripheral Vision can actually be novel when Turnover most resemble their previous incarnation. On "Diazepam", Getz emasculates himself as a preemptive strike against the inevitable—"Your father doesn’t like me ‘cause I’m not into sports/ And your mother won’t approve because I’m not of the cross/ I took an upper before your sister’s wedding just to help me pretend," creating a heretofore-unfathomable nexus between Blink-182 and Galaxie 500. And then there’s "I Would Hate You If I Could". Think of your favorite Real Estate song. One of the really chill ones like "Green Aisles" or "Pool Swimmers". And then, instead of a chorus reminiscing about the simple, bittersweet pleasures of suburban life or the challenges of fatherhood, how about the bitter memories of rough sex with your ex, pinning her against the wall and trying not to wake her roommates. They still sound like Turnover’s application to Captured Tracks finishing school, but retain pop punk’s main lyrical drivers of social and sexual insecurity.
It's hard to figure out an appropriate emotional reaction to the raw, honest, and unsympathetic character in "I Would Hate You If I Could". Perhaps the message is that even as your tastes in music mature, getting fucked over in a relationship hurts as much as it does when you’re 16. That’s not supposed to be the enduring message of Peripheral Vision, at least not according to Getz. He explained the album’s overarching theme as, "I always remember things better than they were and miss people more than I should." Those are the feelings this music is meant to convey, but as a document of a young band in a sharp and tricky growth spurt, Peripheral Vision still can’t hide how messy and complicated real life can get.