Pop-punk. You either love the genre, or you actively despise it. The last few years have seen a gradual surge in the amount of (credible) pop-punk bands emerging, with the likes of All Time Low having overtaken the early-2000s mantle held by Blink 182 and Sum 41. This year, the stadium-sized likes of All Time Low and Blink-182 are slowly but surely being caught up on by established newcomers Neck Deep, Real Friends and The Story So Far. The latter of the three, The Story So Far, have just released their self-titled third album through Pure Noise Records.
The record, which spans ten songs and 29 minutes, opens with a bout of distortion and tapped drumming on Smile, before Parker Cannon’s vocals enter the frame with full-force. Bouncy chords and a sing-a-long chorus all feature, instantly ticking all the necessary boxes for a pop-punk anthem in the making. Heavy Gloom goes on to use a gritty bassline (courtesy of Kelen
Capener) in order to add an extra level of grit to proceedings. “I hope you feel the heavy gloom when you’re all done up in a crowded room” spits Cannon as pop-punk by-numbers elements become nothing short of abundant. The breakdown sees Cannon’s vocals become increasingly emotional, with a brief guitar section and huge sing-a-long section helping the track lead into Distaste’s crunchier guitar tone. By pop-punk standards, Distaste is a ballad which requires plenty of lighters to be lifted into the air. “You can’t say you’ll never fall for me ‘cus everyone knows” claims Cannon during the verse, before adding, “I don’t have much respect for you now.” Solo makes the leap from pitch perfect pop-punk to raw, semi-atonal chord progressions and a heavier emphasis on instrumentation, before Mock presents itself in all its distorted glory. Fuzzed up guitars precede Cannon’s heartfelt vocals, with the song following a rather generic structure for the most part. “And I spend all my time with you in my heart” proclaims Cannon, before using the chorus as a weapon of questioning to his former ex-girlfriend.
How You Are comes at the halfway point on The Story So Far, trudging along slowly as bass and drums form the main core of the track. Kevin Geyer and William Levy’s guitars intertwine during the chorus as Cannon lets out a selection of heartfelt screams which tear at the heartstrings of even the most self-assured listener. Nerve proceeds to speed the pace up partially, even if the song is one of the weaker ones on the record. “It’s all in my head, there’s nothing much I can do” claims the exuberant frontman during the chorus as guitars proceed to chug along during the verses. A brief swathe of distortion and strummed chords help Phantom out of the starting blocks, with a melody taking centre stage during the intro. Phantom sees some of the most emotional lyrics of the record pass by, yet the most impressive aspect of the song comes in its swaying guitar lines, producing a tone which almost takes a life of its own. Scowl, the penultimate track on the record, washes away all despair and sorrow as it drastically picks up the pace in a moshpit-ready pop punk banger with a massive chorus. It features all the hallmarks of a banger, including clichéd, heartfelt lyrics, bouncy guitar chords and a pulsating bass and drums combination. As it builds up to a certain extent of intensity, the
track eventually makes way for album closer Stalemate, which presents itself as a glimmer of hope at the end of an exhilarating journey. It may not help the record go out with a ‘bang’, but it certainly comes close in its roar-along chorus perfect for an arena sized crowd. “Can’t ignore, won’t ignore” sings Cannon as his band mates sing back in call-and-response fashion, before the drums build up during a powerful breakdown. A heavy bout of raw energy helps the album come to a strong end, with an ongoing round of distorted feedback closing the curtain on The Story So Far’s third studio album.
Although pop-punk has never been the most unique genre (in terms of instrumentation and structure), The Story So Far have proved their worth as a credible band in a scene which is slowly but surely becoming rife with band upon band, sound-alike upon sound-alike, cover band upon cover band. So hat’s off to Parker Cannon and co. for putting out a record which could go down as one of the best released this year.