Review || The Story So Far - "Proper Dose"

Disclaimer: This review will be long. You've been warned.

It is the year 2014. I’m on YouTube watching Polar Bear Club videos, a band I was completely in love with at the time. One thing leads to another and I’m redirected to a live session of the band at Panda Studios handled by Sam Pura; it sounds and looks incredible. Immediately I switch to the next live session in that studio, this time by Title Fight. Also amazing. Then, without noticing it, the next session starts playing. Compared to the previous ones, it is the only video that has a thirty second intro song over a quick montage that shows the band and the people in the studio setting everything up. This live recording is for a band called The Story So Far, a group I’d never listened to before. I listen to the live session and it’s cool but all I can think of at the time is that thirty second clip. Checking the comments someone marks that the song playing is called "The Glass" by that same band. From then on everything moves fast, really fast; just like the actual tune. The particular song is a starting point for me, a switch from melodic punk rock to a broader rotation of punk, if you can even call it that. Citizen, Turnover, American Football, La Dispute, Touche Amore and a ton of other bands come flooding into my musical reality and suddenly I’ve found a brand new world to delve into. The Story So Far however, hold an extraordinary place on my daily playlist and the release of their self-titled album a few months later in 2015 doesn’t help change that, it makes things worse; I am now obsessed to the point that I have to book tickets six months in advance to see the band play live in another country. I actually spent good money to go see some people - who are ten years younger than me - play a sold out three thousand capacity venue. Oh, Turnstile played too…

Three years later, not much is really different. The Story So Far are “by far” my favourite band still and I’m eagerly awaiting their fourth release, "Proper Dose", a record that finally drops on September 21st of 2018 through the label that hosts the band from almost day one, Pure Noise Records. 
I can write a lengthy essay on why I love this band so much; I won’t. Pointers are: the heavier approach to a popular version of punk rock, the brilliant and unique musical aesthetic of a genre that actually copies itself immensely showcasing a complete lack of variety, the amazing vocal ability and perfect singing synthetics, the zero rock star bullshit mentality, the independence in choosing how to promote the band itself and the music, the organized structure of tours always with the coolest bands and not some boring “three same bands” line up, I could go on and on. It’s fresh, well written and completely addictive. The one thing that heavily disappointed me was kicking that girl in the back off stage during a show for being a poseur.
Prior to releasing Proper Dose, the band threw a single to the public about a year earlier, announcing nothing about an upcoming record. Out of It is a song that prepared the fans about the shift in approach for The Story So Far; less heavy, more melodic, still catchy as hell. A good number of months later the band features three songs online and announces the official release of "Proper Dose". "Let It Go", "Upside Down" and "Take Me As You Please" are more acoustic rock songs than anything else and almost like nothing the band has tried before. At first I’m confused; is the band completely writing off the heaviness and the groove they were so well known for? Is this a bold move or The Truth? Just like the self-titled album was different than "What You Don’t See" and took a few spins to get accustomed to the switch in that sound, being hooked on the three new songs took me a little while. Still, in the back of my mind I hoped I would eventually get a lot of the elements I love about The Story So Far. And I did. 
The opening title track, "Keep This Up", "Need To Know", "If I Fall" and "Light Year" are all classic TSSF songs just with a different approach in sound but that is something the band does on every record and one of the reasons they stand out in the crowd of bands in the genre; that and the genius that is Sam Pura - mentioned above - the producer/sixth member of the band in charge of delivering top notch sounding production from the first recording. However, "Proper Dose" as a whole is eventually a stronger switch for The Story So Far than expected. The band notes The Beatles as an influence for this record and it actually shows. The lighter semi-acoustic songs hold almost half the space on the record but make for a terrific broad variation of music that - in my book - is equally captivating as everything else in their playbook, even if heavily different; the stellar song writing, an incredible singer and a flawless production can do that for you. 
Lyrically Parker Cannon is as well focusing on different material, again very personal but in a separate direction; away from relationship anguish he now expresses what it was like to go through years of drug addiction and depression and the effect it had on every aspect of his life.That probably explains a lot of the aforementioned behaviour and the lack of interviews/information on the band. Vocally his approach is still borderline heavy on many occasions but also very melodic and almost calming in a way. I’m assuming things are positive for a change. 

Τo finish this review off for "Proper Dose", even greatly diversified as it is, I am dangerously hooked. Record of the Year candidate noted.

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