Since the release of debut album Under Soil And Dirt in 2011, The Story So Far have risen right top of the pop punk hierarchy. Their angsty lyrics and fist-pumping guitars have made them firm favourites with fans of the genre, with the last year seeing them gain extensive airtime on Daniel P Carter’s Rock Show, as well as open the Main Stages at Reading and Leeds. Needless to say, expectations have been high for the band’s self titled album, their third as of yet.
Upon first listen to The Story So Far, it becomes crystal clear as to why the band chose to name this album eponymously. Put simply, the album is impossible to mistake for anyone else’s. The quintet have kept the gritty riffs, quick tempos and shouty vocals of singer Parker Cannon that have worked for them previously at the forefront of the majority of the ten songs. If you haven’t been a fan of their previous work, then it’s easy to dismiss The Story So Far as more of the same. Listening again, however, the subtle innovations that have taken place become more and more noticeable. Heavy Gloom and Solo seem to scream generic The Story So Far on the surface, but both tracks combine more rock elements with the pop punk that the band seem to have mastered already. The former is an album highlight, using a single guitar riff as accompaniment to Cannon’s aggressive vocals before building into a pop punk anthem, and one of the band’s best songs to date.
While the album has a lyrical theme about a breakup Cannon has gone through (feeling “dark blue” is talked about in depth in multiple songs, tying them nicely together), the other members of the band have been given their times to shine throughout. Standout track How You Are sees Cannon step back, giving drummer Ryan Torf and guitarists Will Levy and Kevin Geyer a 50-second showcase of their collective talents. Geyer also gets to display his singing ability on opener Smile, having a lyrical back-and-forth with Cannon.
However, The Story So Far does have its flaws. Songs like Smile and Mock that wouldn’t be out of place on Under Soil And Dirt or What You Don’t See are almost instantly forgettable in favour of the more innovative offerings. The album’s most surprising track Phantom – a gorgeously haunting change of pace displaying the softer, more vulnerable side of Cannon’s voice – is followed by Scowl and Stalemate, a return to Cannon’s more abrasive vocals and typically spiky The Story So Far riffs. These do not pack the intended punch after such a stray from the expected path. It’s a short stray, too, as Phantom is only around the two-and-a-half minute mark, so seems like an extended interlude rather than a serious track. This is a small disappointment, leaving a desire for more refreshing songs.
The Story So Far is a pop punk album first and foremost, but the creativity shown throughout displays the potential of what The Story So Far could be – more exciting and interesting than ever before. As for now they shouldn’t worry, as this album is not just going to defend their top spot on the pop punk hierarchy, but propel them skywards and cement that position for years to come.
For fans of: blink-182, The Wonder Years
Words by Georgia Jackson