The Story So Far is at an interesting crossroads in their musical career path. Under the direction of Pure Noise Records, they’ve been able to put their aggression and emotions on display for the public in two of the biggest staples in the recent pop-punk revival. However, when the time came to start making plans for their second full summer on the Vans Warped Tour, which will be spent on the Main Stage this year, the band announced their plans of a release to tide fans over until LP #3.
Enter Songs Of, a five track collection consisting of alternate takes and new material designed to create a unexplored landscape for the band. While the EP has a respectable desire to push the boundaries of the band’s capabilities, the end result feels rushed and doesn’t match the potential set by the band’s previous outings. Though The Story So Far has proven their ability to produce quality material in an acoustic setting in the past (See: The excellent “Clairvoyant” off their split with hardcore heavyweights Stick to Your Guns), the main problems that stem from Songs Of aren’t a result of their motivations, but instead their final output.
Their stripped down, jazz-inspired re-imagining of “The Glass” from What You Don’t See suffers the most. While aesthetically genuine in nature, what sinks the track is a combination of tinny production and unenthusiastic vocal work. Frontman Parker Cannon sounds so apathetic and unmotivated that it ultimately kills any hopes of salvaging the track of its original ambition. The album’s highlight “Navy Blue”, however, is great for the exact opposite reason. While the vocal arrangement isn’t groundbreaking by any means, Cannon’s vocals are appropriately passionate, spouting some of his strongest one liners to date (“Damn it’s hard to find sustenance when all I had was love for this and now you don’t / Now I just abuse substances to drown out your accomplishments, however few”). Once again, though, any passion displayed through the vocals can occasionally get overshadowed by how poorly mixed they are in relation to the crystal clear guitar work. Put that together with an inexplicably short “All Wrong”, a sufficient “Bad Luck” and a fatigued cover of Bob Marley’s “Waiting in Vain”, the result is an ultimately disappointing mixed bag.
While it doesn’t necessarily offend or weaken the impact of the band’s previous material, Songs Of doesn’t stand out in the ways it should in order for it be a success, nor does it live up to the band’s former competence they’ve displayed on past releases. My advice? Save your money and use it to pick up a shirt at the band’s merch table this summer. I truly do believe when I say that The Story So Far deserves your hard-earned cash – just through different means.