REVIEW: The Story So Far – ‘The Story So Far’

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Artist: The Story So Far
Title: The Story So Far
Label: Pure Noise
Genre: Pop-Punk

There seems to be a divide among those within The Story So Far’s reach. You were either very heavily into From Under Soil And Dirt or heavily into What You Don’t See. These two are equally excellent records that possess profound differences. I personally fall in the first cluster. I’m a sucker for melody and contour. Throw in some aggressive gang vocals and deep-cut one-liners and you can take me home. This is what many had hoped would come of their new self-titled record.

But for the sake of brevity, it falls short.

I think the obstacle lies mainly on the band’s strict observance of pop-punk as a genre. Don’t get me wrong; I love pop-punk. I love the energy. I love the rush. Undoubtedly, The Story So Far are one of the bigger bands that are good in their craft. Like, really good. Their Songs Of EP, on top of their last two records, remain a testament to that. Being fastened so tightly onto this class, however, makes it hard to stray and produce diversity or variety. I imagine it becomes increasingly difficult to stick to what your audience knows while simultaneously wanting to give them something refreshing.

Genre-induced constraints aside, this record has its moments. It has a bunch. “Smile,” The Story So Far’s opener, bites right into the jab. This one is very characteristic of the collection as a whole: destructive and frisky, but not quite capable of inducing that “I want to punch things” feeling. “Heavy Gloom” sweeps you up and eases you into the stifling crunch of each individual number thereafter.

I find myself actively paying attention to the words at first spin. The moment that track four, “Solo,” came in, I looked to it for some magic. I find it in the verse that begins with, “I wish you’d just call, and we could hash it out. I could tell you what I am so mad about,” and again in “Cause I’m sick of hearing that I’m late. Tired of having to restate: ‘I can’t just sit around and wait, you’re just not someone I can date.’”

Although the second half of the record starts off pretty stale, the bridge to “How You Are” adds a little momentum. “Nerve” packs the same Story punch, but again, falls a bit flat and fails to go beyond that. This is where it becomes apparent that lead singer Parker Cannon might have had to pull away and affix some none-yelling/actual-singing vocals in.

Lyrically, the record is deserving of a lot of merit. There isn’t a lot that can be said about song structure and instrumentation. Again, the specific pool of pop-punk they choose to remain in does not offer a lot of options. They definitely could have plucked their strings a bit more and strummed less. It might have been in their best interest to include more featherweight tracks. The especially beautiful “Phantom” comes to redeem what otherwise would have been a very taxing collection to swallow. Even then, though, the layers remain very difficult to penetrate. “Scowl” and “Stalemate” pass and there lies an underwhelming sense of what has transpired.

Being a pop-punk powerhouse entails many things. It took a lot for the band to attain their success and following. After this record, though, I’m afraid it will take a bit more to figure out how to breach a higher ground. Maybe this was that one record they had to get out of their system to make way for something different and new. It isn’t a bad collection by any means. It’s a fair attempt at progress.

SCORE: 6/10
Written by Dana Reandelar

Dana Reandelar

If not hunched over her desk writing about music, Dana can be found binge-watching old episodes of Gilmore Girls or condensing long rants to 140 characters. She also writes for Idobi Radio, and is an Off The Record podcast contributor.
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