Tracking Turnover’s ever-changing sound, one record at a time
Once heralded as a band breathing new life in pop-punk, Turnover are now anything but - and it’s been a slow, gradual shift.
Header image by Jennifer Stratford.
For a band with longevity like Turnover, change is inevitable. In 2019, they celebrate their tenth anniversary as a band (and eight years since their debut, self-titled EP) - a decade in which the industry built around them has welcomed (and often, quickly farewelled) new technology and glimpses of viral, constantly-shifting trends. Yet, Turnover have somehow always remained relevant across these long ten years of change, seemingly without trying to - something that can’t even be said for some of the biggest, highly-publicised popstars to blossom simultaneously to the band and their early work.
In a way, this is because of Turnover’s gradual shift from a Virginia group classed amongst pop-punk’s rising stars to something so much more than that; their experimentation and growth as an outfit meaning that not one release of theirs is like the other. “No matter what mood you’re in, there’s a Turnover song to match it” may not be a popular saying, but at this point, it may as well be.
In the ten years since their formation, Turnover have presented many opportunities to change and evolve their sound - and that, they did. Their debut, self-titled EP in 2011 is thick with the punchy guitar riffs of the world’s then-punk state, while their debut album two years later, Magnolia, shifts itself between the punk-rock ferocity that defined the band’s explosiveness and shadings of areas they’d come to later explore: dreamy shoegaze, emo-pop lyrical longing, subtle guitar-backed beginnings that hint at an indie-toned future before launching into the sound they were then-characteristic for. A three-track release the year following took them into a new direction followed on their acclaimed 2015 record Peripheral Vision, while on 2017’s Good Nature, things change again.
This week, we’re celebrating the release of Turnover’s fourth record Altogether, arriving via Run For Cover/Cooking Vinyl Australia today: Friday, November 1st. It’s a sonically-rich affair that yet again, highlights the band’s changing look and corresponding soundscapes; their constant state of forward-thinkingness on display as they continue to pave a path into hook-rich indie-pop - a fair, fair distance away from the quick-pacing ferocity of their debut all that time ago.
Here, walking through their discography one major release at a time, we track the constant changing shift of Turnover and their continual evolution across the years, finding an end at their new album Altogether and the new sounds that it introduces. Grab the record here.
Turnover - Turnover EP (2011)
For many, Turnover’s self-titled EP was their first introduction to the band. Released in 2011, two years following the band’s inception on the US east coast, Turnover is a five-track exploration into the group at their then-state and when diving back into the EP, it’s not hard to work out why they were so quickly placed within the pop-punk box that would come to define their work since, regardless of how it sounds. Turnover is - generally speaking - centred around a high-tempo ferocity characteristic of the explosive pop-punk that defined the early-tens, and for many, the hyper-emotive lyricism (something you’d often find within the emo-punk world), was an instant drawcard.
Solitude, the EP’s second song, really encapsulates what made Turnover such an exciting new prospect to punk-rock from the get-go. It’s a chaotic two-minutes-twenty of punk that acts as a brief outcry in a time when many acts would have their longing span five-plus minutes (streaming’s influence on song length wasn’t a factor in 2011, because it largely didn’t exist). “I can't shake these thoughts that haunt my mind,” frontman Austin Getz booms, his voice crackling with emotive screams signature of emo’s prevalence in late-00’s heavy-rock. “It's killing me inside.”
Turnover - Magnolia (2013)
While Magnolia is largely dominated by the punk riffs that defined Turnover’s debut EP, it signalled the beginning of their experimentation; their knack for taking on other sounds and incorporating it in their own distinct energy beginning to come to light. At this stage, the band’s changing composition (they lost two members, Alex Dimaiuat and Kyle Kojan, in the time between their debut EP and debut album) is reflected with a slight sonic shift: it maintains the pop-punk roots they’re recognised for, but builds upon it in a way that would later shape their latter records.
The one-two punch that opens the album - Shiver into Most Of The Time - is all the evidence you need to prove that Magnolia is still a punk record at its core. They’re charged bursts of guitar-rich energy that feel like the band falling onto their feet after the lessons learned from their debut EP, despite the minute glimpses of something bubbling within (Most Of The Time’s subtle reflection into an alt-rock world for example, when compared against the unashamed energy of the album’s opener).
However, contrasting the opening two tracks of Magnolia with the last two allows you to ‘crystal ball gaze’ into the band’s future paths. Flicker And Fade is a stripped-back, two-minute ballad amongst the album’s cult-adored favourites, spiralling with a sense of romanticism as Getz lullabies: “The end of summer at your house, it was past your curfew so I had to sneak you out / The grass was wet beneath my toes, I waited there to catch you underneath your window.” Daydreaming, meanwhile, combines the previous songs’ softness with something more characteristic of the band in its then-form: “I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to break these shackles off,” Getz broods in the single’s bridge, surrounded by lush guitar work that sits halfway between the soft indie of Flicker And Fade and the heavier alt-rock of the album’s earlier moments.
Turnover - Blue Dream (2014)
Arriving the year following their debut album, Blue Dream was the first sign of Turnover’s gradual back-turning to the punk-rock roots from which they were introduced. Largely speaking, it’s a tender collection of three songs that see the group morph into the dreamy indie-pop they’ll soon come to embrace, channelling the rise of the mid-00s indie explosion with subtlety and compassion you wouldn’t expect from an act whose work three years prior sounds the way it does.
Disintegration and Bella Donna, the EP’s opening and closing moments, are glass-eyed reflections of Turnover’s frontman that sees the band really look within for brightness, taking the emotive storytelling that the band quickly became known for, but twisted it in a way that almost makes it feel more gripping. Read My Mind meanwhile, which sits in between the two songs, links this dream-pop future with their punk-rock past much like the ending of Magnolia did the same with Daydreaming.
Turnover - Peripheral Vision (2015)
While Magnolia before it welcomed the band’s most drastic change appearance-wise, Peripheral Vision - Turnover’s second album, arriving two years after their first - definitely welcomed their most drastic change sound-wise. Contrasted to Magnolia’s spattering of dreamy indie amongst the backbone-ing pop-punk core that defined the album, Peripheral Vision is a flat-out indie record - and a good one, at that. Across 11 tracks, Peripheral Vision welcomes the embrace of washed-away dream-pop with open arms from the get-go, with its opening single - Cutting My Fingers Off - setting the tone for what’s to come.
From here, Peripheral Vision welcomes a masterclass for what Turnover is now known for. It’s bright and contrastingly positive against their previous work, shining through the addition of a new guitarist - the since-left Eric Soucy - and a sense of intrapersonal reflection for their frontman Austin Getz, who says that the album’s sonic change was, in part, influenced by a change in songwriting after six years: “When we first started writing music, a lot of the songs were just about interactions with other people and other people letting me down or making me happy, whatever the case may be. Just interpersonal relationships,” he explains. “I feel like Peripheral Vision is more about an intrapersonal relationship. The relationship I have with myself and kind of feeling a distance from the person who I thought I was and who I was becoming.”
Whether it’s New Scream’s glistening guitars or the dizzying vocals of Getz that layer across the album’s duration - take Dizzy on the Comedown’s lush, thickly-built vocal echoes - Peripheral Vision is a clear dream-pop record that for Turnover, is them embracing a sound that would soon come to define them in the four years ahead.
Turnover - Good Nature (2017)
While the sonic shift isn’t as drastic between Magnolia’s pop-punk pulse and the dreamy, washed-away dream-pop of Peripheral Vision, Turnover’s next record Good Nature still welcomes a new change. At times, it feels like it sits somewhere in the middle of their work - Super Natural, for example, twists the dream-pop pastel shadings of Peripheral Vision with a hazy, rough-around-the-edges jangle that would fit more-so in-line with their earlier work - but across the board, it’s a record that opens up to the poppier side of their sound; a natural evolution following Peripheral Vision.
Whether it’s Sunshine Type’s summer guitar chords and sun-soaked seal or the quicker pace of the aptly-breezy track Breeze a couple of songs later, Good Nature is firmly rooted in jangly, sunny guitar that wouldn’t fall too far from a combination of Mac DeMarco and The Beach Boys; the latter of which being a big influence on the album. “I was just getting into a lot of things like, I was just talking to somebody else about Pet Sounds and how it’s my favourite record,” said Getz in another interview. “It’s like a good example of what I was aiming to do.”
The Beach Boys’ ever-present influence on dream-pop is something that’s somehow stuck through the years, despite their inactivity today. Good Nature is, seemingly, no different: it’s summer-y guitar rhythms and light-and-easy glaze something that really sets Good Nature apart from the rest of Turnover’s work, even post-shift to the dizzying indie-pop that defines their music in its current form. It’s crafty art-pop with lyrical storytelling in the front-and-centre.
Turnover - Altogether (2019)
Altogether, Turnover’s new album, represents another shift for the band, but this time, in a different way to those explored in the past. This time, although their band has changed its member makeup - guitarist Eric Soucy left the group shortly after the release of their last record, turning it into a trio - and their sound veers into new paths, it’s come off the back of band-within changes, and a changing recording style that allowed new ideas and a renowned sense of experimentalism to come into play. It’s the band’s most collaborative and connected work to date despite them now living on opposite coasts of the US (Getz now lives in Northern California), and while it feels somewhat of a cop-out to say that Altogether features the band sounding closer than ever - it totally does.
Opening with a lo-fi jazz entrance that turns into something more characteristically Turnover later on, Altogether feels the coming together of Turnover’s work thus far and the bright, yet unforeseen future that’s held by a band so bent on experimentalism, creativity and versatility. Still In Motion blends soft-shaded horns with pacing guitar rhythms that on Much After Feeling shortly after, moulds into snappy percussion and psychedelic guitar that at times, feels like it could be plucked from Tame Impala’s Currents. Sending Me Right Back, meanwhile, toys with the incorporation of indie-funk and its crossover with dream-pop, while No Reply suffocates you with blanketing harmonies and vocal layers.
“On this record, more than in the past, we wanted to keep in mind the beauty of writing ‘popular music,’” says Getz on the record, explaining how their approach to songwriting reflects the album’s once-again changing sound. “By that, I mean music for people who don’t have the time to delve into the niches and find fringe artists, music for those of us who are busy with work or our families or whatever problems might be around. Music is real magic that can change people’s days and lives, and the more people listening and loving, the better.”
Nowadays, as Turnover continues to thrive in a time where indie-pop has seemingly fallen into a niche at the hands of streaming’s dominance of hip-hop and pop music, it’s their continual growth and evolution as a band that stands out. Not just have they gravitated to a dreamy, indie-pop sound after finding their footings in punk-rock and emo, they’re now uniting it with shadings that feel like possible paths for the future: indie-funk; pastel, guitar-backed pop; jazz-funk and the list goes on.
For Turnover - a band so reach with experimental minds and creativity - the possibilities are really quite endless.
Turnover's new album Altogether is out now via Run For Cover/Cooking Vinyl Australia.
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