Album Review: The Story So Far presents Proper Dose
If you’re at all up-to-date with what’s been going on in the pop punk world lately, you know The Story So Far is FINALLY back with a new album, more than three years after the May 2015 release of their last album, The Story So Far. The five-piece California pop-punk band released their highly-anticipated fourth LP, Proper Dose, on Friday and it was well worth the wait.
The album starts off with the high energy we’ve come to know and love with the title track, “Proper Dose”. This song successfully sets the tone, addressing the themes of lead singer Parker Cannon’s struggles with drug addiction and his mental state, and the desire to pull himself out of the dark and start living life again that we will see revisited throughout the rest of the album. “Keep This Up” holds the energy and continues to explore these themes alongside that of the relationship he has with his brother. These first two tracks are followed by a remastered version of the beloved first single they released from the album, “Out Of It”.
The next track, “Line”, is completely different from anything else on the album – and from anything else we’ve ever heard from The Story So Far – but it fits here perfectly. The instrumental-driven track has a more ambient and experimental sound, with Cannon singing the lyrics “Feel your hand inside of mine / wait no I don’t never mind,” as a reference back to “Let It Go.”
The album ends strong with “Light Year”, which acknowledges how fast life seems to move and the fact that if you get stuck down below, life will move on without you. It addresses that the band is ready to move past everything that has been holding them down, saying “I’m stepping outside now / I’ll leave you behind now”, but also acknowledging the fear that comes with abandoning everything you used to know and starting anew with “I should have no fear / but my hands are slick”.
One very important thing to note here is that a theme that has been woven into all of their previous work – feeling indigo and dark blue (take a minute to listen to “Solo”, “Phantom”, and any number of their other songs and you’ll know what I’m talking about) – is completely absent on this album. This fact alone represents the band’s departure from their previous era. They focused for so long on the anger and pain that came with past relationships and on this album, not only do we not hear the words “indigo” or “dark blue” at all, but they actively tell us they are letting go. They are clearly moving on to tackle bigger and better things.
Overall, I think this is some of their strongest work to date. While I’ve been a HUGE fan of all their work up to this point and will never stop listening to their first three albums, a fourth album written from the same material as the other three could have been overkill. This album is clearly much more mature in its subject matter and in the emotions expressed, and is also incredibly well-written. Their use of metaphors, symbolism, and word play on this album is unprecedented and much more introspective than they ever have been before. It’s also much more experimental, with the end of “Need To Know” and tracks like “Line” – tracks like these display the musical talent of the band and shows us the range and versatility they are capable of. There is not a single bad song on this album and each track falls perfectly into place.