Album: The Story So Far
Release Date: 18/5/15
Label: Pure Noise Records
Walnut Creek crew The Story So Far have been climbing up the pop punk ladder ever since the release of ‘Under Soil and Dirt’, then second album ‘What You Don’t See’ really started to do things for the quintet. Tours on the Warped Tour and New Found Glory on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour and jaunts all over the UK and Europe has made them an established act and slowly moved them away from the tour support label and into genuine headliners. With the highly anticipated release of their third record, which is a self titled effort, can we see the guys move up another rung on the ladder and take the top spot?
‘Smile’ rings out to open the record and cracks straight into the trademark TSSF guitar sound, which is a lot harder sounding and crunchier than other pop punk bands, leaning heavily on the punk side of the genre. Parker Cannon’s vocals still sound as distinctive as ever and almost imitate the melody of the guitar lines to fuse together and float through the song. The rumbling bass of ‘Heavy Gloom’ rolls out and into one of the biggest and catchiest choruses the band have ever penned, a certain hit for their live set. They definitely knew what direction to go in with this track as it flows along perfectly. ‘Distaste’ isn’t anything remarkable and sounds like a filler track that was picked from any of their previous efforts. It’s not a bad song it just doesn’t do enough to stand out on it’s own.
‘Solo’ has been around for a little while, released before the album dropped and is a great indicator of what this album is all about. Everything from the guitars to the vocals to the structure all feel different for TSSF, when it finally clicks into place in the opening verse it feels contagious and like an evolutionary step for the band. ‘Mock’ arrives with a bouncy intro before heading into familiar territory with palm muted and stop start verses, a trend that appears frequently throughout. ‘How You Are’ has a softer opening before, yes once again falling into the same ideas again. ‘Nerve’ was another early release and is possibly the best track on the record with an upbeat feel and tempo. The track sounds huge and is a real standout from the rest of the songs. Another belting chorus raises their game and makes you think that they might hit the final straight of this album with a flourish.
‘Phantom’ is the surprise package on the album, with melodic and clean instrumentation and ambient tones placed underneath delicate singing from Parker. Soft, slow and brilliant from the pop punkers, the experimentation we’ve been waiting for and they pull it off with aplomb. However, ‘Scowl’ falls back into the same old routine and leaves us disappointed. ‘Stalemate’ closes out the album and the opening riff is a little different to the usual work of William Levy and Kevin Geyer. It’s a track that doesn’t stick out much but ends to remind of you what The Story So Far are all about and do so well. If you want a record that will change the face of pop punk or propel the guys into the echelon of their genre then this isn’t it. If you want a record to stick on and just enjoy then this will do the trick, it’s a case of if it’s ain’t broke don’t fix it, which is a real shame for a band with a lot to offer.