The Only ‘Dosage’ You Need

Natalie Dest

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American-five-piece The Story So Far returns to their familiar pop-punk scene with fourth album “Proper Dose.”
Photo Credit: Music Existence

Since their three year hiatus, the American pop-punk band, The Story So Far, finally returns to the scene with their long anticipated, fourth full-length record.

Like a moth to a flame, the group’s previous release of “Under Soil and Dirt” back in 2011 helped kickstart their rather popular and large following within the genre. Being one of their most angsty and aggressive releases to date, diehard pop-punk fans found a band worth following. However, their newest release “Proper Dose” surprised listeners with a more subdued sound ever so slightly, a style leaving fans rather pleased.

“We were so burnt…playing the same songs over and over again…we knew we had to take a step back,” lead vocalist Parker Cannon released in a statement. “I just think it [the record] leaps and bounds ahead of anything we’ve ever done.”

“Proper Dose” is a breath of fresh air; a culmination of softer melodies and more sorrowful harmonies than previous hardcore punk elements seen in past albums. Although The Story So Far is seen to be channeling a more “gentle” approach to their music, they still manage to show their roots with just enough edge that still represents the band’s pop-punk style and flavor.

The track “Proper Dose,” hence the title, starts off the album with an impressive beginning. As the drums burst in immediately and Cannon’s vocals make their prominent entrance, it feels almost as if the band had never left.

The musical structure and tones that were previously seen in past albums already seem fuller and more defined than ever before. The dynamic verses lead up to the anthemic chorus, while Cannon sings the words “Am I just going through the motions, or is this how I’ll be? / Barely focused anymore, the haze is all that I can see.” It is this track that perfectly lays out the new foundation of the band for the rest of the album. 

“Keep This Up” lands as the following track, a song wired with rock-inspired guitar riffs that quickly build up to an explosion at the chorus. The leading melodies are hard-hitting and punchy enough that make this track a driving force.

When listening to this song over and over, it is difficult to understand how the band fits so much in so little time; an exciting guitar solo, infectious lyrics, and the track’s ability to slow down before its moving finish that ends the song abruptly. It is definitely one of the album’s better tracks that leaves you begging for more.

Keeping up with the energy, “Out Of It,” compliments the previous two tracks almost perfectly. The momentum of the album is still driving onwards, as the general sound continues to stay true to the band’s familiar structure and composure. Thanks to the versatility in Cannon’s vocals and interesting guitar line, it is safe to say that this is one of the more catchy tunes on the album.

However, the following track “Take Me As You Please” gives fans a change of direction, a different taste than the steady, upbeat beginning to “Proper Dose.” Starting off with a simple formula of vocals and acoustic guitar, something almost unheard of from the band, it is one of the record’s more calming songs that leave you relaxed.

This song spreads the message of love and positivity; a constituent warm memory of days spent in bed with a loved one. The gentleness to this track makes it easier for it to stand out within the album, as Cannon sings the lyrics, “How many times can I say that I love her? / That’s not for this song, / ‘Cause I’m done with all the noise, know that we can talk to each other. / It’s all good, it’s all love, now it’s over.”

The mood transition into track “Upside Down” is as quick as a blink of an eye. This song is similar to the previous one; relaxed percussion with smoother instrumental. Almost angelic-like, Cannon’s vocals are soothing with the accompaniment of guitar from bandmates Kevin Geyer and William Levy, helping make this song one of the highlights on the album.

“If I Fall” takes a swing back into a fast-paced, energetic drum beat and almost a “peppy” guitar and bass line. Almost hypnotizing, the transition between Cannon’s softer and harsher vocals are contagious. This song feels like the perfect balance between the singing and the instrumentals, an impressive track for those judging the musicianship. The song concludes with Cannon’s heaven-sent voice singing, “Hold me down, help me drown.”

Following track “Need To Know” transitions the album back to the band’s “brand” of pop-punk. Typical punk riffs and sporadic drumming help the buildup of the song, releasing to a chorus of sweet-sounding melodies from Cannon. The song climaxes to a perfect sing-along; a definite crowd favorite for future performances.

“Growing On You” is one of the more creative pieces from the band, a song not typically heard from previous Story So Far records. This track is one of the most sentimental compositions found on “Proper Dose,” an unseen side of Cannon’s vocals and band instrumentals. Cannon is heard singing the lyrics “I need no shade, I’m tired and true / But I’m lonely like you, I’m growing on you.”

Concluding the album is the track entitled “Light Year,” one final curveball thrown by the band. Anthemic, this song is a mixture of all The Story So Far has to offer. Every aspect of this song is harmonious, energetic, infectious and most importantly pleasing; something to be expected from the group.

The progression of The Story So Far only seems to continue as they climb their way up the ladder. “Proper Dose” is a prime example of the diversity pop-punk can include, having both new and old fans positively satisfied with the band’s evolution.