The Story So Far - What You Don't See (2013)

The Story So Far is a five-piece pop punk band from Walnut Creek, Calif., that formed in 2007. After releasing two EPs and a split with Maker, they released Under Soil and Dirt (2011) - an album that rightfully placed them alongside top-tier pop punk bands. The success of Under Soil and Dirt landed The Story So Far on tours with New Found Glory, The Wonder Years, and more, and this year they will be playing all of the Vans Warped Tour and getting their name out there even more.

After being blown away by Under Soil and Dirt, I didn't know what to expect from the band in the future. I had a feeling that I was going to be slightly disappointed by whatever they released next because I thought that it would have been nearly impossible to surpass Under Soil and Dirt. However, after hearing the first two singles ("Right Here" and "The Glass") off the new album, I had hopes for an equal output. The Story So Far's sophomore Pure Noise Records release, What You Don't See, is set to release on March 26.

One of the first things that I noticed is that the way Parker enunciates the lyrics on What You Don't See makes it much easier for listeners to understand what he's saying. Also, the vocal melodies on this release are excellent, especially on tracks like "Small Talk", "Face Value", and "Framework". In addition to sounding great, these tracks - along with the others on this album - have excellent lyrics that are no longer solely about relationshits/girls that did the band wrong. One of my favourite lyrics ("I'm the book you always opened but you never read") can be heard on the ninth track, "Bad Luck", which is also one of my favourite tracks.

Just like the vocals, the instrumental aspect of The Story So Far has progressed quite a bit and everything sounds very mature. I thought that The Story So Far had found their niche on Under Soil and Dirt, but I was clearly wrong. The drumming on What You Don't See is fairly technical for a pop punk band, and as usual, it's very fast paced, which sets a nice foundation for the melodic riffs and bass. Tracks like "All Wrong", "The Glass", and "Empty Space" blend excellent drumming and solid riffage with superb melodic leads that are sure to impress, while "Things I Can't Change" and "Right Here" have a 'move around and have fun' vibe to them and sound very similar to the band's previous work. Don't take that the wrong way by thinking that the latter tracks are bland; however, they're the songs that I picture being perfect for getting the crowd pumped up for a set.

The production on What You Don't See is also incredible. The drumming, guitar parts, and bass parts are all very audible and piece together perfectly in the mix. After hearing the singles, I was worried that the vocals would be a bit too low in the mix. Thankfully, though, the vocals are crystal clear and at a perfect volume.

Another thing that I really liked about What You Don't See is that there are no filler tracks. On Under Soil and Dirt, the acoustic track titled "Placeholder" seemed like a filler track. It's an excellent song, but being the second last track on the album, I thought it was an unnecessary break from the fast-paced music heard on the rest of the album. This time around, The Story So Far picks up some steam in the second half of the album, rather than running out of steam because of a misplaced acoustic track near the end of the album.

Despite thinking that their second full-length release wouldn't top Under Soil and Dirt, my expectations for it were still very high. After listening to it several times, the only flaw that I can come to notice is that What You Don't See could be a few tracks longer (it's just under 30 minutes long). What You Don't See has an extremely high replay value, though, so the short run-time isn't an issue, and the progress the band has made in the past year is astounding. Their songwriting has always been impressive, but it's even more noteworthy on this release.

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By Steven Pongrac ~ Me Gusta Reviews



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