The Story So Far
What You Don't See


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Denison USER (20 Reviews)
June 5th, 2013 | 19 replies


Release Date: 03/26/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Write it over and over again: the same chords, the same end."

Under Soil and Dirt was an excellent album from start to finish. While I was a little late to The Story So Far party, I was immediately impressed by the urgency and emotion in Parker Cannon's vocals and the tight songwriting. My only complaints were a relative lack of variety and an only-half-joking complaint that the band actually needed to stick to typical song structures more often, only because songs like "Daughter" had massive choruses that were dropped as soon as they appeared, and I wanted more -- perhaps the first time I've ever wanted this of a punk-pop band. I hoped What You Don't See would correct these minor foibles and yield the masterpiece the band seemed fated to write.

Well, they got it half right.

TSSF certainly fixed the structure "problem" -- everything seems pretty structured and straightforward, letting some fantastic choruses shine. "Stifled"'s kinetic chorus, for example is an earworm with a great deal of energy, and the band gives it just enough time to grow on the listener. The even catchier "Things I Can't Change" wastes relatively little time building up to its massive, anthemic chorus, and it doesn't disappoint -- it's a little on the repetitive side, but the wall of sound behind Cannon's impressive vocals makes for a certain winner.

In all honesty, each song individually is impressive (with the exception of the rather halfhearted "Right Here," a very unfortunate choice for a lead single). The Story So Far stick to a simple formula, but it's one that works: short, straightforward punk-pop with big choruses and uniquely strained vocals. But the band adheres too closely to this formula, and after repeated listens songs start to blur together. Most of the second half of the album is a wash: "Bad Luck" has a blistering chorus but ends on a momentum-killing chug-fest, "All Wrong" lacks any sort of immediacy despite some impressive drumming, and the closer "Framework" fails to offer anything unique -- and, like Under Soil and Dirt's "Closure," it offers no sense of resolution.

What You Don't See, ultimately, doesn't feel like an album, but a hodgepodge of disconnected songs. The lyrics avoid the juvenility that plagues punk-pop, but they're also frustratingly impersonal. Vaguely angry breakup songs just don't cut it. What makes this more frustrating (and what ultimately keeps this album from a lower score) is that so many other pieces of the puzzle are there. There's no denying that the band has talent -- Cannon's voice is remarkable, and Ryan Torf's drum grooves keep the energy high. The production is vastly improved; everything sounds crystal clear. And a good number of those big choruses work: "Playing the Victim"'s call-and-response-esque refrain and unison attacks works wonders.

If it's any consolation, TSSF might have my Song of the Year race locked up already. "The Glass" is an emotionally supercharged, dizzying gem with a blistering pace, a catchy chorus that doesn't sacrifice any urgency, and a chilling bridge where Cannon's cries of "Now you're gone" push his considerable range to its limit. And yet it's all wrapped up in under 3 minutes, leaving the listener reeling. But unfortunately the rest of the album can't capture the same magic. The hubbub that arose when the acoustic "Clairvoyant" was released only shows the band's desperate need for variety; when you write two albums of now-irritatingly similar songs, even the trite decision to unplug the guitars can work wonders. Imagine what genuinely better songwriting could do!

Ultimately, my reaction to What You Don't See is not revulsion, but disappointment. The potential for an album that will truly floor me is there, but right now, I'm still listening to "The Glass" on loop and waiting for The Story So Far to realize it.



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user ratings (539)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
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Dakoda Jones (5)
If you like punk, get this album! If you don't like punk, still get this album!...

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With hype that is almost overwhelming, The Story So Far delivers an album that fully breaks all expe...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

in which i give out a 3.5 but only begrudgingly, i expected a lot more from this
let's see how long i keep writing this time...
also yeah it's late yadda yadda yadda

Cygnatti
June 5th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

good summary.

Digging: Jon Hopkins - Immunity

merpmerp
June 5th 2013


799 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review. It doesn't seem like your describing a 3.5 though.

ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i was afraid of that. like this album is really good if you consider each individual song, but it loses a lot if you treat it as a full album.

skoopy48
June 5th 2013


1501 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review, I kinda agree with you actually, but I still love this album

Digging: Let It Happen - Cause Effect

BroFro
June 5th 2013


405 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"a hodgepodge of disconnected songs"

this to me is more like Under Soil and Dirt in a nutshell. What You Don't See is far more cohesive. So needless to say i disagree with you, but the review is quality.

Digging: Jimmy Eat World - Clarity

Cygnatti
June 5th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

a hodgepodge of disconnected song
disagreed with this, hard.

toxin.
June 5th 2013


12434 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

apparently i agree

Calc
June 5th 2013


12197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sssssuch a good sssssssummery album

Digging: Jizue - Shiori

ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

US&D isn't very cohesive but I think this was even less so

Calc
June 5th 2013


12197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

may i ask how it's less cohesive and how all the songs blur together? seems like you can't get more cohesive than that

Cygnatti
June 5th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

That's what I'm saying. How can an album have songs that blur together yet manage to be incohesive?

ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

songs blur together because they sound the same.
cohesion has more to do with how an album flows. albums can be very eclectic and still cohesive. or they can be very homogenous and not flow. the fact that the last track was a total dud is a big part of that.

Cygnatti
June 5th 2013


21352 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I get the flow part. But I haven't a case where songs that blurred together also didn't flow together. If they didn't flow together, the you would notice when a new song would start and notice how it is completely different in sound with previous song(s), thereby not being blurred together.

If one part of a whole that generally sounds the same throughout sticks out, I still consider the album rather cohesive.

pepster50
June 5th 2013


328 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

dude last track is not a dud. Is it as catchy as some of the others? hell no. But the ending instrumental part definitely brings closure to the album. Same with the ending of Bad Luck (which happens to be my least favorite on the album).

The Glass is the best song, followed by All Wrong and Empty Space.

sixdegrees
June 5th 2013


17111 Comments


All Wrong is definitely a keeper

Digging: School Food Punishment - Air Feel, Color Swim

ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"But I haven't a case where songs that blurred together also didn't flow together."
this album fits that requirement as far as I'm concerned.

". But the ending instrumental part definitely brings closure to the album. "
It felt really tacked-on to me. Bad Luck was better but still not great.

"The Glass is the best song, followed by All Wrong and Empty Space"
The Glass, Things I Can't Change, then Playing the Victim.

Calc
June 5th 2013


12197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seems like you're putting your own spin on certain words to me.

ProjectFreak
June 5th 2013


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think i define "blurring together" differently than the rest of you, yeah



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