Album Review: The Story So Far – Proper Dose

Album number four for California pop-punks The Story So Far is out on Friday.

The 11-song statement of purpose is released via Hopeless Records and includes lead single Let It Go. Proper Dose is an album about growing up and finding the balance between the person you were and the person you want to be. It shows not only how much the band have grown in the past years but also takes their fans on that journey with them.

After the release of their 2015 third, self-titled album the routine writing, recording, and touring had caught up with the band. “We were so burnt from touring, and playing the same songs over and over again,” says Parker Cannon, the band’s vocalist and lyricist, “We knew we had to take a step back and collect ourselves.”

They took time away, to recharge and find new creative ambitions. The result is one of their most confident records yet, and one they’ve always wanted to do. “This one, all the way through, I just think it’s leaps and bounds ahead of anything we’ve ever done,” says Cannon.

Guitarist Kevin Geyer and drummer Ryan Torf steared the album’s creative direction. “We didn’t really have a deadline,” says Geyer, “And the biggest enabler of us getting the record to where we wanted it was having time to work on it.”

Working with producer and engineer Sam Pura, The Story So Far spent just as much time reworking the songs on Proper Dose as they did writing them. That process produced songs like Take Me As You Please and Let It Go, which are much more pop-heavy than fans might be used to but still have the inherent energy of the band’s earlier releases.

Opening the record, however, is title track Proper Dose, giving you said proper dose of TSSF – iconic vocals, pop-punk drums for days and energetic riffs. It’s not the only track on the record dealing with the issue of addiction and self-medication. Keep This Up for example mentions “My pessimistic views stem from all the drugs I use. Hide all my guilt inside this bruise, it’s my ruse.” buried in catchy melodies.

What TSSF do extremely well across all of Proper Dose is deliver some of the best pop-punk they’ve written in years. With just the right balance between ear-worm-worthy pop choruses and urgent punk rock vocals and riffs.

Upside Down is one of the few ballads on Proper Dose. It feels almost like a come-down after the high of rocking out to all the mosh-worthy tracks before it. The chilled-out harmonies and slow-paced guitar make for great listening. Very similar, Line feels like come-down kind of tune. Only there’s a much more psychedelic vibe going on vocally and melodically as the electronic sounds take you an entirely different trip. The song bleeds perfectly into Growing On You. 

Finishing the album is Light Year, which gives you that last dose of energy TSSF are so well known for. It also once again reminds the listener that the band have created a record that pushes them into a new direction without alienating their die-hard fans.

The Story So Far UK dates: 
5 October – SWX, Bristol
6 October – O2 Forum, London
7 October – O2 Institute, Birmingham
9 October – Beckett SU, Leeds
10 October – Garage, Glasgow
11 October – Riverside, Newcastle
12 October – O2 Ritz, Manchester
13 October – Engine Rooms, Southampton