The Story So Far – ‘Proper Dose’

By Kelly Ronaldson

Burnt out from touring and what vocalist Parker Cannon describes as “playing the same songs over and over again”, The Story So Far’s fourth studio album, ‘Proper Dose’ was inevitably set to be a breath of fresh air. Released via Pure Noise Records, the Californian pop punks have made excellent use of their three-year recharge, culminating in an impressive and mature eleven-track record that pushes the band’s musical boundaries and expresses their personal struggles with finding identities and reaching aspirations.

Opening with title track ‘Proper Dose’, the album wastes no time introducing a cleaner, more refined sound to the band’s catalogue; boasting heavy yet intricate guitar riffs, strong basslines that drive the track, and a significantly improved vocal range. ‘Keep This Up’ and ‘Out Of It’ set the tone for lyrical themes that can be found scattered throughout the rest of the record – self-destruction, self-medication, and dealing with the highs and lows of overcoming both – while showcasing the same high-energy pop punk that we’ve come to expect from The Story So Far.

Acoustic melodies and emotional vocal work pushes the album in another direction with tracks such as ‘Take Me As You Please’ and ‘Let It Go’, moving towards commercial, pop-esque sounds but allowing the steady beats and summertime vibes of Ryan Torf’s drum work to pull the tracks back to their feel-good, punk-fuelled roots. That said, the quintet haven’t held back in their experimentation, and rightfully so. There’s something special about the pop-rock influences of ‘Upside Down’ that pair perfectly with nostalgic lyrical themes to provide an additional yet essential layer of emotional depth to ‘Proper Dose’.

Likely an attempt to please older fans, ‘If I Fall’ and ‘Need to Know’ barely stray from the band’s previous material, offering up a plethora of anthemic hooks and infectious guitar work, while dealing with the concept of taking a step back from the negative aspects of life, leaning towards ideas of self-development and recovery. ‘Line’ marks a dreamy pop-rock interlude, boasting distorted vocals in a short and emotional verse, before ‘Growing On You’ takes the form of a heartfelt rock ballad, pushing Cannon’s vocal range further than any previous track ever has.

In typical The Story So Far fashion, ‘Light Year’ picks up the pace again, drawing the album to a close. Bringing in a more positive tone for the end of the record, the track’s lyrics reflect on the journey of self-discovery and leaving behind the past, while its upbeat nature and group vocals echo the emotional release of the band’s own journey. Ultimately, The Story So Far have challenged their abilities both musically and emotionally, pushing beyond expectations and showcasing those efforts in a well-rounded and exciting new release.

KELLY RONALDSON

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