Pop-punk is on the rise once again. If you haven’t figured that out already, you really haven’t been paying attention. Bands like The Wonder Years, Set Your Goals, Fireworks and Four Year Strong have been leading this new take on the happy-go-lucky genre and the amount of new names popping up in the pop-punk scene is astonishing. Though there are a huge amount of bands playing this new version of pop-punk, there are a few bands that have stuck with that core sound that the genre was made most popular around in the days when John Nolan had less spine than a jellyfish and less guts than an eleven-year-old kid. Newcomers to the scene The Story So Far are one of those bands staying true with that old sound. With their debut full-length titled Under Soil And Dirt this young group have shown that looking back to your roots can be one of the best decisions to make.
Opener “States And Minds” is a quick and to-the-point track that introduces the album perfectly as vocalist Parker Cannon shouts “I’m coming in and out again” repeatedly leading into the first real track, “Roam.” Starting off with a slow yet powerful riff, “Roam” truly introduces Under Soil And Dirt properly.
Following “Roam” are two of the catchiest tracks on the entire record. The chorus of “Quicksand” is sure to have any listener singing along by the first listen and also serves as a great live song while Cannon’s yelps of “It shakes every fucking bone/Trying to do the right thing on my own” behind some old school sounding power chords in “Swords and Pens” will be sure to take over any hopeful youth’s stereo this summer.
Moving on, tracks like “High Regard” and “Mt. Diablo” show off the mature riffage of Kevin Geyer and William Levy while the energy of “Four Years” delivers this band’s sound in the rawest form, reminding listeners of earlier bands in the genre, more specifically The Movielife. Though this is a fast-paced pop-punk record, the slower yet upbeat pacing of “Placeholder” adds variety to a barn-burner of a record.
“Daughters,” however, is the track fans should be most excited about. Featuring some of the most impressive instrumentation as well as vocal delivery, “Daughters” packs everything anyone would ever want in the pop-punk/melodic hardcore genre into one phenomenal track. From a hooky chorus to gang vocals and once again old-school strumming galore, this song should make any fan of this genre giddy. As Cannon shouts “And to think that you’re somebody’s daughter/Away at college not getting smarter,” the devotion deep in his vocals is infectious and spine chilling.
The only negative with Under Soil And Dirt is that at times Cannon’s vocals become rather one-dimensional as there is mainly one tone to his voice. Luckily the trade-off between Cannon and the backing vocalists save the album when it may seem that Cannon’s voice is wearing.
So in the end, forget everything you think is generic about today’s pop-punk because The Story So Far are here to kick it old-school and bring back the gritty emotion that bleeds from every crack and crevice of the earlier bands in the genre. A lot of great pop-punk has been released this year, but as the last notes of “Closure” fade, The Story So Far emerge as the owners of one of the top pop-punk releases of the year thus far.