ARTIST: FREE THROW
TITLE: WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE
LABEL: TRIPLE CROWN RECORDS
WORDS: SOPHIA WATSON
Suggested by the unflinchingly punchy title, Free Throw’s new album, ‘What’s Past is Prologue’, promises to be an honest narrative of the former lives of the band – a novel written over 12 tracks to divulge their previous struggles. Whilst the band are no strangers to exploring the topics of mental health, this third album depicts the personal struggles of lead singer and guitarist Cory Castro; with heavy themes such as substance abuse and body image the record throws a relentlessly honest light onto his life during these times.
Castro explains that this album is different because when he was writing for Free Throw’s last album he was still cemented by these issues and so felt he was ‘yelling from the void’; yet, now Castro feels that he has been able to articulate the process of rebuilding himself as he looks back on this void to produce an album that displays this personal growth.
The record opens with the regretful lyrics ‘had my first smoke in four years today’ as a simple guitar is picked mildly in the background – a fitting sonic metaphor for the selfishness that is revealed in this song ‘Smokes, Let’s Go’. Sensibly the album begins with the moment in which the singer finds himself overcome by the loneliness he feels after a failed relationship. Throughout this opening number Castro compares the need for this person to the need for his vices – in this instance cigarettes. The use of this addictive imagery is a powerful opener to the album, and is highlighted further through the concluding sentiments of the song as Castro proclaims that whilst ‘It didn’t really help’ and that he has an affinity for ‘things detrimental to my health, I guess I’m smoking again’.
“…with heavy themes such as substance abuse and body image the record throws a relentlessly honest light onto his life during these times..”
The album continues to develop on such themes. The next track ‘Tail Whip, Struggle’ has an unstoppable energy produced through resilient drums and power chords. Castro’s vocals are subdued in parts as he sings ‘I tried to give you all of myself’, yet he does allow himself to rip into these emotions as his vocals scream ‘the pain wasn’t worth it’.
Single ‘Stay Out of The Basement’ with its textured guitars and opening statement ‘there’s something hiding in all of us’ follows suit. Whilst this song still explores the nuances of addiction and mental health it’s lyrics focus on the notion that we are all affected by something, broadening the inclusion of the healing qualities of the album.
Another stand out moment on the album is the shouted confession ‘Is this what I had planned for my life/I need a hand of some type to pull me up and break this cycle of drinking for breakfast’ in the song ‘Today Is Especially Delicious’. This number displays Castro’s more developed vocal tone, as he screams in a smoother manner than he has done on previous records as if he feels more at home within the walls of this album.
“manages to excavate so much feeling without ever whining or whingeing”
However, the most impactful song on the album is the closing number and title track, which begins with smiling guitars and the charming imagery of regrowth. The closing moments of the song are the most profound, ending the album as it began with the singer and his pack of cigarettes; yet, this time Castro sings of throwing this pack away, and exclaims ‘I’m finally breathing again’ – the narrator has reached his end goal, his vices have been overcome.
‘What’s Past is Prologue’ digs into the deepest trenches of the mental health battles experienced by lead singer Cory Castro, leading to overall darker thematic content for this record, and despite this the album manages to excavate so much feeling without ever whining or whingeing. It is clear that this album is the bookend to a previous chapter of the band’s existence. “This is the first Free Throw record with a happy ending,” Castro said. “The album leads to an ending of where the band stands today. We’re all happy to be doing what we’re doing, and it’s kind of the happy moment where we’ve become the band we were always meant to be.” Just as the name of the album suggests this is merely the beginning for the pop punk group.