While the Summer Set's full-length debut, Love Like This, was firmly entrenched in happy-go-lucky young love, its follow-up, Everything’s Fine, finds the bandmembers wiser in matters of the heart and more mature in their musicianship. The charm that previously pulled in listeners is there, but Everything’s Fine sets aside most of the saccharine-laden hooks in place of a more laid-back, breezy vibe, positioning the Summer Set to reach more pop-minded audiences while still pleasing loyal fans. This is bolstered by producer John Fields, whose résumé ranges from P!nk to Jimmy Eat World, who captures the quintet with a new sense of focus and universality. Leadoff track “About a Girl,” with gentle guitar work bringing to mind Goo Goo Dolls’ hit “Iris,” sets the mood for the record both sonically and thematically, finding the Summer Set delivering their newly grown-up emo-pop as they navigate the ups and downs of dating and relationships. Pondering the carefree joy of love, “Thick as Thieves,” co-written by Matchbox Twenty multi-instrumentalist Paul Doucette, takes the band to the beach, channeling Jack Johnson with its ukulele and handclap-driven melody. And just as the music has grown, so too have frontman Brian Logan Dales’ vocals -- the uplifting, spare “Don’t Let Me Go” shows he has the chops and appeal of an alt-pop favorite like Train singer Patrick Monahan. If it sounds like the band has lost its edge, fret not: tracks like “Must Be the Music,” with its rapid-fire lyrics about getting caught up in the craziness of a party, recall the rowdiness of their debut. While the Summer Set shed some of their emo-pop roots for Everything’s Fine, the growth as songwriters and performers as well as potential for wider recognition shown on their sophomore effort is a worthy exchange.
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AllMusic Review by Chrysta Cherrie