Released: May 19, 2015
Genre: Pop Punk
Label: Pure Noise Records
Number Of Tracks: 10
The lather-rinse-repeat mentality of The Story So Far's eponymous third album displays that the band can't strike gold by digging in the same place every time.
The Story So FarFeatured review by: UG Team, on june 05, 2015 6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: As par-for-the-course as The Story So Far may have seemed for a next-generation pop punk band (even naming their band in homage to seminal pop punk band New Found Glory was a move done by All Time Low first), they've stood out amongst their peers by going against the grain of today's norms in pop punk. As opposed to the dominant style of crispy-clean, arguably saccharine vocalists in pop punk and other emo music realms, lead vocalist Parker Cannon brought a rough-around-the-edges singing style reminiscent of early-noughties voices like Tim McIlrath, Dustin Kensrue, and Nate Barcalow. Moreover, the band's recipe of no-frills pop punk that flows in a similar vein of early-era Taking Back Sunday and New Found Glory made for a more organic counterpart to their "more pop than punk" peers.
It was this formula heard in their 2011 debut album, "Under Soil and Dirt," that quickly conjured buzz for The Story So Far, and they would continue their ascendance on a succinct schedule. Their follow-up album, 2013's "What You Don't See," would land the band high up in several Billboard charts, breaching the Top 10 in Alternative and Independent albums, and hitting #1 in the Vinyl album charts. 2013 would also be the first year the band would play Warped Tour, essentially being the proper induction of The Story So Far into the current pantheon of pop punk bands.
Now on their third album, "The Story So Far," The Story So Far are still riding the momentum of their breakthrough, and that momentum is noticeably growing stale. Still banking on the same pop punk recipe from four years ago, the few variations found to diversify or augment their sound are subtle. A fixation for feedback is shown, which is used as a proper textural component in the intro of "Smile" and the bridge in "Scowl," but mostly results in meandering outros in "Distaste," "Solo," "Mock," "How You Are" and "Stalemate." The band also opt to use different time signatures, but nothing too brainy - nearly half of the album runs in 3/4 timing along with the standard 4/4, though "Stalemate" shows a little more intrigue with its 5/4 verses and 6/4 choruses.
Nevertheless, these minor variations don't prevent the lot of "The Story So Far" from blurring into a homogenous slog from song to song, nor does it distinctly set itself apart from The Story So Far's previous two albums. Despite the band's instrumental prowess still being strong (see the lead guitar melodies in "Distaste," the varied basslines in "Mock," the drumming activity in "Smile"), it feels less potent when regarding its familiarity to the band's earlier works. Chord riffs and lead guitar melodies are composed the same, and even the drumrolling section in "Stalemate" is a bit the band has already done before (in the "Under Soil and Dirt" song "Roam," and in the "What You Don't See" song "Bad Luck"). The only black sheep song on the album ends up being the biggest curveball song The Story So Far have ever made - "Phantom" bears a shoegazing vibe, with clean reverbed guitar chords and slow-traveling overdriven lead lines, as well as Cannon singing smoother than ever before. While it serves as proof that The Story So Far are capable of writing more than one type of song, it can't single-handedly save the stagnancy heard throughout the rest of the album. // 5
Lyrics: With the main lyrical theme spanning throughout "What You Don't See" being Cannon straining to maintain a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend while touring with The Story So Far, the concept that spans throughout "The Story So Far" is the aftermath of that failed relationship. Early on, Cannon's lyrics indicate that his girlfriend cheated on him while he was away (singing "Why'd you leave it? / Is it because what I chose? / Can you look in my face and explain why you put someone else in my place?" in "Distaste"), but as unapologetically angry as he is in the wake of this, he still shows a willingness and preference to try mending things (singing "And I wish you'd just call, and we can hash it out / I could tell you what I'm so mad about / Bet you're sick of hearing me sulk and pout" in "Solo").
However, it's shown that Cannon's ex-girlfriend has no interest in mending things in any way with Cannon, and Cannon's co-dependency towards her and shellshock towards their breakup keeps him from being able to make peace with her or himself. He remarks on his own bewilderment of completely cutting off from her in "Mock" ("How can I just break it off / to leave for good and never talk?"), as well as being saddled with separation anxiety ("Yeah I should let this go / But it gets so hectic on my own" in "Nerve") and bittersweetly dwelling on past memories ("Picture you just dancing / Dancing in your old room / Damn, it's such a bad view" in "Phantom"). The most optimistic thought Cannon shows near the end of the album is his hope that they will be able to revisit their situation in due time ("Let a couple years roll by, bet we come back to this again" in "Scowl"), but with his adamancy towards not letting go of his emotions sounding rather toxic in the final song of "Stalemate" ("I won't calm down / I'll never let it be"), it may be in everyone's best interest that they keep away from one another. While his issues in "The Story So Far" go unresolved, perhaps Cannon will find peace of mind in The Story So Far's next record. // 8
Overall Impression: If there's any downfall that comes with a quickly-gained rise, it's the meekness of complacency. Though The Story So Far hit the scene with a winning pop punk formula right out of the gate, "The Story So Far" is little more than another iteration of that initial success, and its staleness shows that they can't ride their debut momentum out forever. While there may be minor signs of The Story So Far looking to take a step in a different direction, they'll need to shake things up more substantially the next time around to keep the potency of their sound and their abilities from further waning. // 6
The Story So Far
vppark2, on june 08, 2015 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Over the past few years we have seen this huge resurgence in the pop-punk subgenre. I think the most notable one that seemed to have started this whole trend even though I don't like them is Man Overboard. Following the "Defend Pop-Punk" slogan, it surely drew in quite a number of fans. And if you thought taking the name of a Blink-182 song was the end of pop-punk bands doing this, well, California pop-punk band The Story So Far decided to go the same route with inspiration from New Found Glory. It could be that these newcomers are running out of ideas for names, but it's not a bad thing. With that said, this is TSSF's third full-length album, and the follow up to 2013's "What You Don't See." The thing I loved about that album is that it was full of summer jams, even though I'm not a huge fan of Parker's sing/yell technique, I still enjoyed the album overall. With this album, he tried exploring further by singing on the soft track "Phantom," but decided to go no further with the rest of the album, which is a huge shame because I love the instruments in this band, while it's not as fun or easy on the ears as their last 2 efforts were, it still does have its moments. Just not very pop-punk-like moments. This band seems to have taken a more softer approach and sound like a regular rock band. // 6
Lyrics: With the lead single, "Nerve," I was left disappointed. While it isn't a bad track, it has left me wanting Parker to explore more. With the same ol' wishy washy, sappy lyrics of most cases women, it gets old. And I have no idea what this indigo message is, but it's also present on "Solo," which I sort of liked a bit more as a song all in all. And I'll admit, I liked the lyrics to this song much more.
"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' Now look who can’t hold their weight I hope I'm wrong just for your sake Using pills and flowers to sedate Find me heal me keep my faith."
Parker really has his way with words, and rhymes, so I have to give him credit where it's given. // 6
Overall Impression: This album is definitely one of those that will most likely alienate some, such as myself. I found myself blasting their last album the past 2 summers, and at other times of course, but now this album just seems a bit stale, and most of that has to do with Parker's vocal delivery, an even lyrically. It's not a bad album, but I was honestly sad because some of these songs had so much build up to it in the intro, from the baseline in "How You Are" to the riffy "Distaste." This album, unfortunately falls flat, an would rightfully deserve a C if rated in school. // 6
The Story So Far
AlTheCharmander, on june 08, 2015 1 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: Since the release of their debut record "Under Soil and Dirt," vocalist Parker Cannon has only been improving. In The Story So Far's self-titled release, Cannon uses more of his lower range (i.e: "Phantom," "Stalemate") as opposed to the two previous albums they've released. As for the rest of the band, guitarists Will Levy and Kevin Geyer some diversity in their sound, mixing in a little bit of an indie vibe with their usual pop punk sound, and frequent use of guitar feedback with a flanger effect (i.e: "Smile," "Mock," "Solo"). Bassist Kelen Capener and drummer Ryan Torf use a lot of complicated rhythms, and the bass and drums prove to be a main part of the writing process (i.e: "How You Are," "Smile," "Nerve"). Overall, this Sam Pura produced record shows that The Story So Far isn't some generic pop-punk band, and that they're willing to try new things. // 8
Lyrics: You know the drill when it comes to Parker Cannon's lyrics: a girl has played him in some kind of way, and he shows that in less of a "you broke my heart" way, but more of a descriptive and borderline poetic way. However, with "The Story So Far," there's a common theme of him feeling "indigo" or "dark blue" in the lyrics.
From "Solo": "I feel indigo, you've got what I need I'm indigo, you've got what I need You’re not what I need"
From "Nerve": "It's all in my head, there's not much I can do You set your pace, I keep mine too Each time I chase, I feel dark blue Confuse your face for someone new"
Already using a lot of descriptions in how he feels about the situation, Cannon uses "indigo" or "dark blue" as more of how he himself feels. However, at times, I felt as if he uses those terms as a kind of "safe zone" when he was writing his lyrics, but despite this, he shows 100% honesty in his lyrics. // 7
Overall Impression: We all know a band's third record is the most pressuring of their entire discography; you either keep the formula that's been working, or you try something new and hope for the best. After listening through "Under Soil and Dirt" and "What You Don't See" and then shifting to the self-titled album, there is definitely a shift in the sound. The band is being a little more experimental with the instrumentation, and they're trying to prove that they're not just any other pop-punk band out there. I feel far from "indigo" about this new record; in fact, it's one of the best releases in 2015 as of late. With tracks such as "Mock," "Nerve," "Phantom," and "Heavy Gloom," this 10 song release that clocks in at a little over a half an hour is an album that grabs you and won't let you go until the second it's over. // 8