Review by Shannon Shumaker
The great thing about hearing new material by The Story So Far is that you know what to expect if you’ve listened to either of their previous full lengths. Unfortunately, that is also one of the weaknesses of this pop-punk act’s self-titled record. When “Smile” opens the album with a drum part that hooks you immediately, catchy guitar riffs and Parker Cannon’s signature vocal work, I’m certainly not disappointed, but I’m also reminded quite a bit of The Story So Far’s 2013 release, What You Don’t See.
The similarities between The Story So Far and the band’s previous releases, What You Don’t See and Under Soil And Dirt aren’t necessarily a weakness, as fans of TSSF’s signature sound will definitely be content, and new listeners will easily be able to familiarize themselves with it. There are definitely a few moments where The Story So Far do expand on their sound a bit, too. For instance, the vocal work about two thirds through “Smile” becomes much softer, a nice change of pace from Cannon’s usually aggressive vocal style. The song itself is also much more mellow than The Story So Far’s older material, too. “Heavy Gloom,” the following track, is also strong because of the fuzzy, thick bass line that opens it up. As the album progresses, it seems that it is heavily carried by strong bass work, which is also a pleasant change.
Though the first two songs on the album are relatively strong, it seems that the majority of the album just tends to sound very similar to The Story So Far’s old material. As the album goes on, there are moments (especially the vocal part in the beginning of “Solo”) where I can’t help but feel that I’ve already heard the song before. Again, that’s not to say that this album isn’t without its strong points. While there aren’t many stand out songs perse, (except for “Phantom,” which I’ll get to in a moment) the strong points come in the guitar and bass tones and Cannon’s vocal work. Much of the album is carried by fuzzy guitar and bass work, and Cannon does do these high vocal runs in many songs that really stand apart from the band’s old material.
“Phantom” is the gorgeous stand out track that comes near the end of the album. With a slower, almost haunting quality, “Phantom” really shows off a much softer side of Cannon’s vocal abilities. Everything about the song is beautiful, from the fuzzy, mellow guitar work to the melody to the stellar vocal work. “Phantom” proves that The Story So Far are absolutely not one dimensional, and it’s enough to make one wish that the band would have explored with this sort of sound a little bit more throughout the album.
The Story So Far’s self-titled album is simply the band continuing to do what they do best, and doing it well. Despite the similarity in sound to their previous releases, The Story So For undeniably create some catchy tunes with this album, and if nothing else, it’ll at least tide fans over until their next release.
Listen to "Phantom"