Album Review: The Story So Far - 'Proper Dose'
It’s finally here. The long anticipated fourth full-length release from pop-punk band The Story So Far. After the release of ‘Under Soil and Dirt’ in 2011, the American five-piece have risen in popularity and gained a tremendous following within their genre and have varied their sound whilst still sticking to their roots. ‘Under Soil and Dirt’ was probably their angriest release to date, with songs that made everyone finger point like crazy at their shows. Over time, they have subdued their sound ever so slightly, and with their latest release, this becomes even more evident. ‘Proper Dose’ is said to be about finding balance between the person you were and the person you wish to be, and this comes with more sorrowful harmonies and softer melodies than we are previously used to hearing from the band.
‘Upside Down’ highlights this change of sound, and many fans have compared them to the likes of ‘Turnover’ who are very laid back and provide easy listening. Whilst it’s possible to see the similarities, the album still carries subtle hints of it’s harsher pop punk roots, and it really shows the bands ability to adapt and change its sound and keep things fresh. It shows how much the band have matured since their earlier years and actually makes them stand out much more within the pop punk scene. With many bands being inspired by The Story So Far’s earlier sound, it’s hard to find as many bands that stick out due to so many similarities in sounds, so it’s good to see TSSF have progressed and still make themselves stand out from the crowd in such a saturated genre. It will now be interesting to see whether other bands will follow suit and get inspired by their new-found sound.
‘Proper Dose’ is the first single on the album, and this is a lot more reminiscent of the likes of ‘What You Don’t See’ whilst still featuring newer melodies. This comes as a catchy start to the album and kicks it off with excitement, with ‘Keep This Up’ continuing the high energy we all know and love from the band. This continues for the first three songs and up until ‘Take Me As You Please’, you wouldn’t even think the band have changed their sound at all.
It’s this fourth track of the album that shows the band break out of their mould and come out of their comfort zone and create something more upfront and vulnerable. Starting off by singing “Dont’ leave my light on, you’ll burn out the bulb”, this almost seems to refer to the fact The Story So Far have been a band since Parker was seventeen years old. This has been his life for around ten years. The band went through a stage of touring non-stop, creating music, and have been in the public eye for the most of it. In 2016, Parker took a small break from the band and it seemed like at this point, he had left his light on for too long and had burnt himself out. It’s honesty like this in the album that has really set it apart from all previous releases.
The Story So Far have often been branded as that pop punk that sings about girls and heartbreak and gets mad about it, they’ve been slated for lacking diversity between albums and received criticism for not changing things up. This release breaks all previous assumptions and shows that they are back in the game with something new and refreshing. The days of crying and screaming about ex’s are over. The band aren’t twenty anymore, and many of their fans that would relate to this have grown up too. The band have moved on to talking about more honest life struggles as they have matured, including topics of self medicating, disassociating, and what life has been like for the past few years for Cannon.
In a recent interview, the first he has ever conducted in five years, he speaks about being sick of being pigeonholed as “Mr Pop Punk”, he didn’t want to sing about girls anymore, he didn’t want to be playing the same old music over and over again. He needed a change. A break from the band. And this is all evident throughout the album. It’s the album we finally see the band for what they are. We finally receive vulnerability from them rather than walls they have built up high.
Words by Hayley Fearnley