Stakes are high and emotion is charged on The Story So Far’s 3rd and self-titled record.
Having become one of pop-punk’s most watched up-and-comers, The Story So Far could have easily gone with a well-known producer and followed through with the usual pop-punk band formula of attempting arena rock glory, but how refreshing it is to be able to say that the band instead honed in on their already solid sound and fine-tuned it to great effect.This album is not more of the same shouty, borderline melodic hardcore sound that established the band’s popularity. It is rather the equivalent of a dart hitting the bulls-eye instead of simply the inner-most ring. There are some new ideas to speak of, such as the ambient guitar intro that begins album opener “Smile”, the semi-jazz section in the bridge of “Solo” or the distortion-engulfed drum solo that closes out “How You Are.” But hooky, huge pop-punk is the headline of this record, as it should be. Single, “Nerve,” best showcases exactly that, and a surprisingly diverse performance from ever-upset vocalist Parker Cannon, who weaves through the verses but slows down for a soaring declaritive pre-chorus of “You still call!” echoing with as much grief-fueled recall as it should. “Phantom” especially surprises and shocks, with its downright depressing post-rock flavor, complete with melodically diving guitars and a chorus that will remain in your mind long after the record stops spinning. It is perhaps a testament to how Parker feels about what inspired the “You’re not here but I still sense your presence” situational topic of the song. Ironically, only “Distaste”‘s repetitive intro guitar left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Though Parker truly is constantly stirred in the lyrics his pain and lack of romantic closure is what provides the album its integrity and angst. He only writes what he feels, and it’s evident in his delivery and the band’s composition follows suit.
A nice touch is how fantastically true to form the album’s mix is. Not only does it define The Story So Far’s sound, it also defines the ideal pop-punk sound as a whole (with an especially tasty bass tone notably).
The Story So Far is a “what you see is what you get” type of honest – It does nothing new for pop-punk, and it doesn’t need to. It continues a remarkable line of albums for a band who just knows what they’re doing within a genre full of cliches and predictable advances. Memorable, reflective and full of life, The Story So Far continue to justify why they’re the new leaders within their genre. And they’ll soon be playing an arena without one damned “Woah, oh, ohhhh” chorus to have gotten them to such heights. Staying true to form is the best form to be in, especially when you’re this band.