Review Summary: Take pop punk and make 10x catchier and 10x better. Introducing: The Story So Far.
Under Soil and Dirt is the debut full length California pop punkers, The Story So Far; on a side note this is also their first Pure Noise Records release. The band formed in 2007 and have released an EP before this.
Under Soil and Dirt might just be one of the best pop punk albums of 2011, possibly even years. It's honest, sincere, and overall(the biggest factor for me) is that it's 100% relatable. Parker's lyrical ability is amazing, he writes some of the catchiest pop punk hooks I've heard in a long time. Every time the chorus to Quicksand(One of my personal favorites) comes on I can't help but singing along to it. The fan favorite Mt. Diablo is absolutely captivating. The chorus sounds so big and completely makes the song. Parker's voice still retains some testosterone and doesn't have that typical "whiny" factor thankfully, however he has his flaws that aren't necessarily his fault, but the productions which I will get to later in the review.
The rest of the The Story So Far are pretty talented musicians. Guitarists Will and Kevin write some pretty catchy riffs that will stay in your head for days. The band also avoids breakdowns entirely; thankfully the breakdowns in pop punk trend is dying. Their bassist Kelen is totally audible and he has some pretty creative bass lines; for instance in the song Roam the bass is bouncy and it sounds pretty awesome. Kelen also provides backing vocals and they're pretty disappointing compared to Parker's. Kelen's voice suffers from over production which kills just a little enthusiasm for the vocal department, but compared to Parker's voice he's a decent counterpart. Lastly, Ryan, their drummer knows his way around creative fills and pretty good pop punk drumming. Overall, their musicianship is crisp and clean. The band does have an acoustic track that has the drums pounding in the back. Placeholder is one of the catchiest tracks on the album and one of my favorites. They couldn't have done it better.
As I said the album did have it's faults, the biggest problem that keeps it from being a classic is the over production on the vocals. Parker's voice does have some auto correction. At times his voice just sounds purely auto-tuned, but you can disclose this by watching a live video of them, the kid can sing and I wish they would have let him sound more raw then monotone, nonetheless he's a great singer. Kelen's voice though is purely autotuned, thankfully he doesn't appear much, but it's not totally ear-grating.
If the band lost the overproduction they can be the next big thing. They know how to write pop punk songs and make them catchy. They avoid cliches and have honest lyrics that you can apply to any situation. My personal favorites on the album are: Roam, Quicksand, and Placeholder. Also the intro song States and Minds is absolutely awesome with Parker singing, "I'm falling in and out again!" Which sets the tone for the album. Get Under Soil and Dirt, it sets a new standard for pop punk/melodic hardcore.