One of the most loved bands in the pop-punk music scene and the ultimate “sad boy” group has finally made their much-anticipated return with their new album Proper Dose. In the three years since the band released their self-titled album The Story So Far, the pop-punk music scene has been patiently waiting for their next project, since its announcement in April of 2017.
Going into the first listen of this new album, I was a little skeptical with the album. Parker Cannon, the lead singer, stated in an interview about the album “I just think it’s leaps and bounds ahead of anything we’ve ever done”, which made me worry about how different and experimental this record would sound. Regardless, I gave it a spin anyway, and I was not disappointed.
Like Parker said, this album is miles ahead of what they have done in the past. You can tell that one of this album’s main focuses is on self-medicating. In an interview, Parker goes over how he and the guys fell into a dark place during their hiatus, and some of them used self-medicating throughout those dark times. They all hit a wall, and they figured out what they wanted to be as a band. This helped them breakout of these self-medicating habits.
From these experiences, the band was able to write about more meaningful topics. One of those topics is dealing with self-medication, to then implement change. Their approach was much more positive than they usually are, which helped them make changes to move forward with this record. Some of the adjustments they made for this record were necessary, and makes this album so much stronger than any of their other albums. The stereotypical sounds of their music have been slightly changed.
One change is that Parker’s iconic yelling/shouting has been toned down by using less strain in his singing, leading to a more pleasing sound generally. This change will not only please the group of listeners that don’t like the iconic shout, but also please the people listening to them for the first time. Another change they have made is making their sound slightly more mature. By adding to their riffs and drums, it makes their music sound less all over the place and brings more flow and structure to their music. The band also dove deep into songwriting, looking at influences like The Beatles and Oasis. Lastly, they changed their tone of music and lyrics. They have adapted to a more positive sounding, happy outlook to their lyrical content. It feels as if they are leading to more positivity to their lives, instead of the angsty, “everything’s out to get me” feel.
The Story So Far didn’t abandon their roots though. A few tracks like Proper Dose,Keep It Up, Out of It, Let It Go. and If I Fall still sound like their iconic pop-punk sound that brought them to this fame. They added a few twist to these songs, such as having less of an up and down, roller coaster effect in the vocals, which helped to add a little more structure to the track. By taking away the the up and down effect, it gave their songs more order. This makes the album feel more mature without losing a classic pop-punk feel. Take Me As You Please, meanwhile, is a slower acoustic song that you would listen to relaxing on a fall day.
Upside Down is a track that they experimented with. From the start, there is a much more mellow, and happier tone to this song. You can hear the more positive vibe in this number, which is a total curve ball. A lyric that stands out the most to me is “It’s all love now”. I think this captures the overall message from the album as a whole. They used to write songs about feeling down, or mad about problems in their life. Yes they were bangers, but this new view and sound demonstrates a more positive and mature outlook on life.
Growing on You is the biggest change in sound on this album. With a slower tempoed song, more chilled sounding guitar and drums, and the switch between Parker’s normal voice to his higher pitched, soothing voice brings the track to a clean tranquilizing sound. This song really encapsulates the “maturing” sound that they have added to their music.
The album ends with the track Light Year. This track became an instant favorite of mine, because it blends their new sound and old sound. This tune really sums up the album very well, and shows their growth as a band. The album is like a story, and this song sums up how the main character became who they are, from who they were.
Overall, this album is the best written, and the most mature record in the group’s discography. I was very impressed with how different the feel to this new project was. A lot of times when bands make drastic changes, it doesn’t come out better than their older stuff. This usually happens because bands sometimes get too experimental or they change their sound too much. The slight changes make this album exceeded my expectations to what I was anticipating. The Story So Far are back, and ready to take back their scene.
Recommended tracks: Keep This Up, Upside Down, and If I Fall.
Album Review By: Bryan Csordos