The Story So Far - What You Don't See
Record Label: Pure Noise Records
Release Date: March 26, 2013
Reviewed by: Drew Bankert, originally reviewed over at Open Bar Reception
It’s safe to say that The Story So Far’s 2011 debut full-length album, Under Soil and Dirt, threw me back in my chair, like it did for most, the first time I heard its brutal yet catchy approach to the ever-typical sound of pop-punk. By the way, I was sitting in a swivel computer-chair that also rocks back and forth, which would’ve made the whole flailing mess horribly embarrassing to watch (just saying). Just as they did with Under Soil and Dirt, I’m finding that everyone seems to have a different set of favorite songs from The Story So Far’s 2013 sophomore album, What You Don’t See, which tells me that The Story So Far made a well-rounded album packed full of at least decent, if not spectacular, songs.
Right off the bat with the first track, “Things I Can’t Change,” the four Cali-boys set the general song structure and rhythm-centered standard for the rest of the album. Take notice to that cleverly placed bass drum from the hard-hitting Ryan Torf. Songs like “Stifled,” “All Wrong,” and “Face Value” show a lyrical theme of longing for friends and loved ones, which isn’t exactly rewriting the book on writing lyrics, but singer Parker Cannon still manages to do so thoughtfully and (as in true The Story So Far fashion) with a hint of angry accusations and finger pointing.
What You Don’t See’s real adrenaline-fed climb begins at track five with the song, and first single having been released earlier this month and constantly screamed back from fans at shows, “Right Here” is only the beginning of what I found to be the albums three peak songs. “Empty Space” is arguably the songs title-track, the album’s highest regarded song, and is just packed with anthemic lines including “I know it seems like I’m always upset!” which makes me (being over presumptuous about these types of things and all) think this track could prove to be a kind of “Quicksand Part II.” Finishing out the album’s top three gems, “The Glass” provides What You Don’t See’s best outro, by far.
“Bad Luck” and “Face Value” prove the notion that The Story So Far didn’t just create a second Under Soil and Dirt but managed to demonstrate instrumental growth in their sound – exploring more hooks, adding interesting new rhythms as well as unfamiliar chords, and all leading to a slightly more mature and complex sound (now, granted this is still pop-punk – obviously nobody’s breaking down any barriers like John Cage or something). It might just be my overly-presumptuous excitement again, but is it just me or does Kelen Capener’s little bass ditty at around the two-minute mark in the track “Face Value” sound like something Mark Hoppus has done before in fifty other songs? The album’s closer, “Framework,” displays a fine example of just how The Story So Far skillfully manages to mold hardcore into pop-punk without having to utilize those dreaded Four Year Strong/A Day To Remember/Same As Sunday-break-down-beats that even their self-proclaim predecessors, Set Your Goals, managed to fall victim in some of their songs every now and again.
The largest of the very few criticisms I have of What You Don’t See would have to be my favorite tracks of the albums’ tendencies to also be the shortest in length, but I guess that’s what you get for liking a band in the punk genre. If nothing else the album is well done solely on the grounds that no one else in pop-punk successfully making this type of sound the way that The Story So Far has been. Well maybe Such Gold (shameless plug), but still, not with the same simplicity that The Story So Far manages to accomplish. Just as they did with their acclaimed debut album Under Soil and Dirt, The Story So Far’s sophomore spectacle, What You Don’t See, continues to lay the path for the future of a more hardcore, yet still predictable, pop-punk.
Recommended If You Like: New Found Glory, Such Gold, Set Your Goals, Maker
1. Things I Can't Change
3. Small Talk
4. Playing The Victim
5. Right Here
6. Empty Space
7. The Glass
8. All Wrong
9. Bad Luck
10. Face Value