The Summer Set's Stories for Monday, the Scottsdale pop/rock quintet's fourth LP, is an album that almost didn't come to fruition.
During promotion prior to the album's release, vocalist Brian Logan Dales revealed that the Summer Set nearly called it quits in late 2015 amidst bandmembers' concerns that they had nothing left to say.
Instead of a breakup, they forged forth with Stories for Monday, a collection of feel-good youth anthems for both the revelry and the morning after.
The specter of that near dissolution looms over much of Stories, imparting a reflective and nostalgic energy to the 11 songs chronicled for those eponymous post-party tales.
References to the '80s play a big part -- despite their oldest member being born at the end of that decade -- like on the synthy "Jean Jacket," the sentimental "Wonder Years," and the blissful "Change Your Mind," which shouts out to Corvettes, Blonde Ambition, Joy Division, and Members Only.
There's also a load of Springsteen nods (both lyrically and sonically) that would make Brandon Flowers proud, with Dales singing about "No Surrender," "Thunder Road," "Born to Run," and "American Beauty." This lends a quality that is less Warped Tour pop-punk -- a scene that the Summer Set are most commonly associated with -- and more throwback arena pop akin to Jack Antonoff's Bleachers.
In general, they straddle both worlds, but the poppy hints found on 2013's Legendary really come to the fore here.
On opener "Figure Me Out," Dales declares that they're "a bit too pop for the punk kids, but a bit too punk for the pop kids," which is an apt description of the band circa 2016.
"The Night Is Young" is a Journey-sized arena singalong, with its "live fast, die young" spirit, which bleeds into the defiant sex-and-drugs singalong "All My Friends." A hint of John Waite's "Missing You" appears on the chorus of "Missin' You." These millennial distillations of the '80s reveal a distinct pining for times past and an appreciation for accomplishment, regardless of age.
On the spiritual center of the album -- the pair of "All In" and "Wasted" -- the band proclaims that, no matter what, the days spent partying together were not wasted.
As they close one chapter of their journey together on "When the Party Ends (Can't Hardly Wait)," they declare "Turn the lights on/Party's over/Maybe someday we'll never get older." Yet it's more triumphant than sad.
There's that sense of uncertainty on the entire album, which serves as both an extended trip down memory lane and, perhaps, a goodbye.
But whether this is simply a bookend before a new phase or a complete finish is up in the air.
Either way, Stories for Monday is a total celebration.