WORDS: ADAM HOPKIN
Long before becoming pioneers of the pop-punk revival The Story So Far dropped their phenomenal debut effort, Under Soil and Dirt. Now synonymous with the genre, the California heavy weights have had their fair share of controversy over recent years, having a bust-up with over-enthusiastic security at Vans Warped Tour 2014 (RIP) and even getting banned from a Toronto venue for kicking a fan off stage mid selfie.
Vocalist of the sunshine state band Parker Cannon has since admitted that he began to resent the pop-punk scene, soon feeling disenchanted with music, the bands future and going as far as to admit that the outfit had grown up and was over that part of their life. But with three genre defining releases under their belt and a highly anticipated fourth just around the corner, The Story So Far have always been on top form with artists scrambling to capture the same visceral energy off their debut release, hoping to replicate the same crowds and replicate their explosive success.
“Now synonymous with the genre, the California heavy weights have had their fair share of controversy over recent years…”
But their efforts will always be in vein. The Story So Far’s very literal overnight success saw them upstaging headline acts on their very first major tour. Suddenly having hundreds of likeminded followers at every show, bassist Kelen Capener has explained that despite being the opening act, bands would often make them play last just to keep an audience worth playing for.
Under Soil And Dirt is brimming with the charismatic, heartbroken depression the genre is now synonymous with. It’s easy to perhaps dismiss the lack of variation displayed across this album, but what is inescapable is the sheer sincerity each beat, riff and strained shout is delivered with. Few artists reach this level of songwriting prowess, made even more impressive by the fact these guys were in their late teens when they put this together.
This natural talent is immediately displayed across album opener “States of mind”, precise, sharp percussion guides crunchy guitars as the summertime melody seamlessly bleed into follow up, “Roam”, encouraging you to delve deeper into what the band has to offer. At this point it’s too late, you’re lost and the volume is cranked as high as your nostalgic expectations; it’s barely been a minute and a group of lads that aren’t even old enough to throw back a beer have got you totally hooked.
“parker Cannon’s unrestrained delivery ticks all the genre staples that any acne faced shit of a pre-teen can connect with.”
What would now be seen as flogging a dead horse, the Under Soil and Dirt is remorseless in venting youthful angst and frustration. Frontman Parker Cannon’s unrestrained delivery ticks all the genre staples that any acne faced shit of a pre-teen can connect with, from hating life, your hometown and pretty much anything your half-baked gaze can reach. The vocals also help to disconnect them from being burdened with the label of just another pop-punk band. Parker almost barks across the release, making his performance fierce, aggressive and bringing with it the ferocity of hardcore. Yeah, of course, he is pissed, we get it. But so was every other winey dude that took up centre stage at the time.
In stark contrast to the melancholy lyrical themes, instrumentals are raw, urgent and even dizzying at times. Even through the rose tinted haze of nostalgia it’s hard to look at something so groundbreaking without noticing everything that’s now expected of the genre and perhaps even cliché. But this is exactly why it holds such a special place in the scene’s history; do you really think these fellas cared how polished this sounded? This is an unapologetically raw purge of youthful frustration and with a release like this, it makes you question if pop-punk ever needed defending. If it did, these guys have got it covered.
PROPER DOSE IS OUT THIS FRIDAY VIA PURE NOISE RECORDS.