The Story So FarPure Noise Records
By Dustin Blumhagen
The Story So Far release their third album knowing that they have earned themselves a certain amount of comfort with the success of their previous two full-lengths. After the success of Under Soil and Dirt and their first hit single, Quicksand, the group found themselves launched to the top of the current wave of pop punk just as it exploded. Despite the common belief that a self-titled album heralds an artistic evolution for a group, the band instead made the safe choice to revisit the sounds that made them household names.
With ten songs covering a half hour, the band manages to avoid the trappings of excess. When they drag on a little long like on How You Are, it is obvious where an unnecessary instrumental sprawl could have been edited out. For the most part though, the songs are succinct and are stronger for it. Parker Cannon’s vocals are still easily recognizable, although he appears to have toned down the screaming a little bit this time, preferring to focus on singing more often. Yet two albums later we find that a song like Nerve is virtually unrecognizable from Quicksand on first casual listen. With time, intricate differences become clearer, but it is evident that the band are comfortable sticking with a well-worn formula. The sole standout track is the meandering Phantom which has a strong early Jimmy Eat World vibe. It is a wonderful track that serves as a reprieve from the whiny singing that makes most of the rest of the album indistinguishable from itself.
The Story So Far have adopted the AC/DC musical theory, choosing to appease fans with more of the same rather than taking a chance with the slightest artistic experimentation. This is a good album and sits well alongside their previous releases. The songs are strong and catchy and show why the band deserves the recognition that they have. Despite this though, there is still a bit of disappointment knowing that they chose the safe route. What if The Wonder Years were still making music like the mess that was Get Stoked on It!? The pop punk scene has been criticized for stagnation many times over the years, whether it is bands trying to copy the Ramones or Green Day chord for chord. This is an enjoyable album with few obvious faults, but let’s hope that the band makes the bold move to expand their sound on the next release, if only to prove that they are more than a one trick pony. This is a decent release, but hardly a necessary purchase when there are thousands of other equally talented bands waiting in the wings for your hard earned dollars.