Review Summary: I finally learned to love myself
If one thing that can be said about Free Throw’s third full length: it’s certainly not boring to listen to. Kicking up the guitar playing a few notches, the emo band are still singing about beer and their perceived lack of progress… at least, most
of the time. On the closing title track, the band takes a head-first dive into optimism. The entire message of the album can be pinpointed to its last two minutes, as lead vocalist Cory Castro attempts to bury his past with a blunt declaration: Today I finally learned to say I love myself!!!
He also wrestles with his pride, admitting gruffly, learned that when I truly need some help, not to keep my ***ing mouth sewed shut.
We’ve all been in that spot – embarrassed and uncertain if we should share our darker moments with our loved ones. So when Castro comes full circle in the closer – revisiting the insecurities strewn throughout the album and putting them to rest – it’s a hell of a thing to witness.
However, what really makes Free Throw shine above similar emo bands lies in their execution. With sweeping guitar work very reminiscent of Tiny Moving Parts, each track is stuffed with passion and energy. Unlike Bear Your Mind
, an effort split down the middle between the more upbeat tracks and somber cuts, What’s Past is Prologue
is insanely consistent. They establish the formula early on and stick with it -- each track built with varying doses of adrenaline. There are softer moments, but not a single track here could rightfully be called a ballad. Lead vocalist Cory Castro is beyond impressive here, injecting some of his best performances into nearly every track. I won’t lie - I always thought there were two lead vocalists up until this point. The way Castro starts “Smokes, Let’s Go” with such a fragile demeanor, only to erupt into the coarse cries of “I never should have went to that bar!!!” sounds
like the work of two singers, but it’s just Castro’s knack for piecing together two very different singing styles. His range has only improved here. Songs like “Tail Whip, Struggle” (pokemon reference bonus!) and “Today is especially Delicious” find him shouting his way out of every verse in lines that beg you to sing along.
Unlike Free Throw’s prior music, the topics of addiction and depression feel more tongue-in-cheek this time around. Judging by the closer, I don’t think the frontman really starts off each morning with booze for breakfast, but Castro examines his past choices with a self-deprecating humor that makes you grin. I’d liken it to someone being able to look back on their mistakes and laugh at them, rather than just wallowing. What’s Past is Prologue
is simply an examination of these life choices told through a potent mixture of Midwest emo and hook-laden pop punk. If their last effort was the band’s dreary fall album, this one is best-suited for the springtime weather. The lyrics now have a sense of hope that was missing from their music, with the improved guitars providing a sturdy backbone for Castro to work with. The only real drawback is the album does feel a bit anticlimactic, but only in the sense that it leaves you wanting more. When Castro finally passes a turning point of self-acceptance during the album’s final breaths, you can’t help but wonder where he’ll go next lyrically. What’s Past is Prologue
is a great record, but I’m convinced Free Throw’s crowning achievement is right around the corner.