Review Summary: It’s all good, it’s all love, now it’s over
It’s well known that change and The Story So Far are two concepts that never really meshed. Album to album, they’ve more or less retained the same sound and focused on the very, very
specific topic of lead vocalist Parker’s breakup with generic unnamed everygirl. It’s not like they had any external push to change the way they did things. The band has been held up as the titans of the genre for around an entire decade now, built on a foundation of tight songwriting and hooks that got the kids yelling their voices sore at shows. The Story So Far could’ve put out album after album after album after album of the same exact formula tweaked ever so slightly and lived comfortably with a large following.
That’s why Proper Dose
is such an extremely special album at this point in the band’s career. This is the first instance where the band said themselves, “*** it”, and took much more than a little step outside their comfort zone. Forgoing the straightforward and relatively simplistic approach of their last three albums, The Story So Far jump off into the deep end (for their standards) and write a bunch of slower, softer songs about substances and forgiveness. Before, we were only allowed glimpses of this side of The Story So Far, through songs like “Phantom”, “Clairvoyant”, and “Navy Blue”. Proper Dose
gives us the full experience, with the entire middle section being dedicated to the most lush and pillowy songs the band has ever written. The rest has the band doing their absolute best to combine this softer sound with the faster tempo of the rest of their discography. Guitar tones are much cleaner than they have been in the past, with songs like “Keep This Up” and “If I Fall” showcasing some of the most pleasant guitar leads the band has ever written. Drums continue to stand out, with drummer Ryan Torf effortlessly settling in and playing around the band’s new sound, evident on songs such as the newly mixed and improved “Out Of It”. The song is slightly rearranged and mixed differently, with Parker singing more than yelling and the instrumentation coming in with different timings than the original released a year or so ago. “Line” and “Growing On You” are without a doubt some of the best songs in the band’s discography, fading in and out of focus and really exploring the chill, higher range of Parker’s vocals. I had always said to myself and others that if the The Story So Far ever attempted to write an album full of songs like “Phantom” from their self-titled, they would pull it off perfectly. I’m happy to state clearly here, my imagination was right on the mark. They perfectly mesh the sound they’ve built up their entire career and morph it into something grander, something more laidback and collected.
Parker’s lyrics were never as personal as they were bitter. Song after song was dedicated to bashing his ex, yelling and screaming about the way they continued their lives afterward and why they even had to come to the point the two found themselves at. For young teens and twenty-somethings, this content was as relatable as it gets. It’s the type of thing that just resonated with a whole generation and provided some form of catharsis or closure from their own heartbreaks. But bitter heartbreak never lasts forever. As Parker’s anger faded, he started to take some time and think about other things. Such as his increasingly destructive drug abuse and addiction. Kerrang put out an interview with Cannon a little while ago, and quite a few lines stuck with me. “I was doing my best to disassociate and disconnect from everything...I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as Mr Pop-punk. I didn’t like that at all. I didn’t listen to it, even though I was playing it. That [image] was something I didn’t want yet everywhere I went I was that. So I thought, ‘Maybe if I close off, maybe if I just disappear, I can be someone, not necessarily better, but someone new.’” As he later admits in the interview, this cutting himself off threatened to kill the band and, if it went on long enough, himself as well. “I got myself an apartment, because I just needed to chill out for a second. I’d had too much of touring, too much of music, too much of everything. And it led to me getting high everyday, trying and failing to achieve the same intense high that I’d felt playing live during what were the best years of my life.” Hearing this come from the man itself is sad in a way. Throughout the album, it is addressed how Parker no longer feels happy playing in a band and is just burned out from life in general. Compared to this, the subject matter of bitter breakups seems like a distant, petty memory of the past.
has The Story So Far at their most varied and being the furthest removed from their staple sound than they ever have been. For those who were worried that the band were starting to become stale with the repetition of themes and emotions, they will find this album to be the exact thing needed at this point in the band’s career. I’m a little wary to call Proper Dose
the band’s absolute best album just yet, but it makes its case and it makes it with such a reinvigorated passion that you can’t help but consider it to be.
“I hope so, man,” he smiles. “I hope that people can hear these songs, read this interview and gain a better understanding of who I am. It got weird for a second there, but at least I was always very, very honest.”