REVIEW: The Story So Far – Under Dirt And Soil

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Artist: The Story So Far
Album: Under Dirt And Soil
Genre: Pop Rock/Punk
Label: Pure Noise

Certain albums can take on completely intangible qualities, ones that really make no sense in any realistic way, but really define the album as a whole. Some albums just feel like a season, Lydia’s Illuminate feels like the fall, Brand New’s Deja Entendu feels like spring time, and nothing says summer quite like a solid pop punk album. I feel like the release date for every pop punk album should be the first day of summer, or it just won’t make any sense, contextually speaking. But then again, it’s probably a good thing I don’t have any say on the matter, that idea probably wouldn’t work quite as well in practice as it does in theory. Conveniently enough, summer officially began just a few days ago, marking the astrological beginning of pop-punk season, and The Story So Far – a California pop punk band – released their new debut full length, Under Soil And Dirt on June 21st, to mark the occasion, or at least, that’s what I would like to think. Unfortunately, the general consensus these days is that pop punk just isn’t what it used to be, but after hearing this album, I’m inclined to disagree, I’d say the pop punk scene is just as strong as ever, it just takes a bit more work to find the greats, but they are out there, and The Story So Far is definitely one of those hidden gems. These guys aren’t your standard bright eyed kids decked out in neon that has become the most recent dying fad in the pop punk scene. This is a group of gritty, angry dudes, expressing their most personal frustrations through their songs, just as it should be. As the seasons change, and my wardrobe rotates back to tank tops and jorts once more, and I bring my pop punk library back into full rotation, I find it becoming harder to come across an album that I deem worthy of full rotation. But The Story So Far’s very timely release of Under Soil and Dirt has certainly earned it’s spot amongst the legendary pop punk albums that I’ve been listening to for years.

Now, when it comes down to it, there really isn’t much to pop punk, there is only so much room for stylistic freedom in this genre, but there is a very big difference between a good pop punk band, and a bad one, the difference is rather subtle, but ultimately impossible to miss. Songs like “Mt. Diablo” and “Quicksand” are perfect examples of how this band is leagues ahead of their so called contemporaries. Perfectly catchy, sing-a-long angsty anthems that have come to define pop-punk over the years. Each song features a flawless hook, that leaves the listener helpless to sing along even after just the first listen. And best of luck at forgetting those choruses any time soon. And the whole album is chock full of unforgettable hooks like those found in “Quicksand”, it’s nearly impossible to narrow this album down to just a few choice tracks, they all have something that gives them individual merit. Due to the relatively limited variation usually seen in pop punk albums, that is quite the rare feat, usually an album has a few tracks just sound repetitive or unoriginal, or at the very least, pales in comparison to a few stellar tracks. But such is not the case with Under Soil In Dirt, from start to finish, the album is full of amazingly catchy and interesting pop punk anthems.

There is little doubt in my mind that The Story So Far are only a few months away from reaching the very top of the contemporary pop punk scene, alongside recognized greats like The Wonder Years or The Swellers. Once people get a hold of this album, and realize how good it really is, there will be no stopping this band. They mark an evolution of the genre, while still relatively new to the scene, I have no problems ranking them as one of the greats. The Story So Far are definitive proof that those who thought the genre peaked years ago are missing out on something amazing. Pop punk isn’t dead, it’s only just getting started, and just in time for summer.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: Michael Hogan

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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