Review Summary: Once you stop shouting at your ex, you may actually win her back.
When The Story So Far entered the scene in 2011 with their first LP, it took the kids by storm. Where other pop punk bands of the time liked to play with the mellower side of the genre, Under Soil and Dirt brought about the throwback to the fast-driven sound of the earlier days. The two records to follow would achieve similar success. I've always had one issue with The Story So Far – their predictability. Their music was a welcome addition to my playlists, but the similarity between songs made it tough for them to stay in my head or heart for long.
With Proper Dose, this finally changed.
Where one might expect another song about an unrequited love or a partner lost, the record opens straight up with a song about addiction and stagnation. Vocalist Parker Cannon refused to give interviews for a large time span starting in 2013, and when he decided to break his silence it was to talk about his abuse of pills and cough syrup. Watching the world grow whilst being stuck in isolation is the motif of the catchy, yet thoughtful opener, and the first few tracks to follow.
Take Me As You Please
and Upside Down
show a gentle vulnerability that is reminiscent of Clairvoyant
, the sweet-sounding ballad of a previous EP. Their change in tempo, their break with what's been established on the album so far is exactly what I've missed in previous releases of the band.
is another experiment. An almost-instrumental track during which Cannon softly repeats minimal lyrics, it takes you away from the addiction for a moment. Everything seems fine and dandy again. Or maybe we've been tricked and pushed into a substance induced haze.
lets the album end in a similar vein to how it started. It wraps it all up nicely, reminds us of the topics touched upon, of how The Story So Far typically sounds. They're ready to go beyond now, but they're staying true to their roots.
With Proper Dose, the band has shown they're capable of variety; that they aren't going stale. Still, among the maturity and earnestness, one thing falls short: The lyrics. A record that lives from its vulnerability and heartaches would do very well to go deeper on personal experiences. Many lines seem to be there for the sole purpose of creating a rhyme. “I'm forcing myself to get better by fall - Will you be there if I fall？” is just one example of an unmastered craft. If The Story So Far manage to refine their texts, whilst keeping their playfulness shown here, a future release could very well be the emotive banger I've been waiting for. As it stands, Proper Dose is the album they should have released a few years ago to get that girl back they've been singing about on all those other songs.