The Story So Far

Under Soil And Dirt

Written by: TL on 12/09/2012 21:11:55

When you think about it, it's really quite interesting how far pop-punk as a genre has managed to stretch without almost losing its meaning the way that labels like emo or post-hardcore have by now. You have your mainstream pop-punkers like All Time Low, you have heavier, brocore outfits like Four Year Strong and you have the oldschool, roughed up torch bearers like Man Overboard. And then you have a whole lot of things going on in between as well, yet as soon as you hear it, it is mostly pretty clear that you are in fact dealing with pop-punk, and mostly when you're doing so, it's hard not to enjoy the sunny guitars and positive energy that's the stamp of the genre.

Landing more in between the more hardcore inspired pop-punk acts like Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals and the more raw, unpolished ones like City Lights and Man Overboard, we have California quintet The Story So Far, who apparently share their name with both a defunct Midwest punk band, and a smaller British namesake, so take care to not get confused. Their debut album "Under Soil And Dirt" was actually released all the way back in the summer of 2011, but apparently did not find its way overseas and into the Rockfreaks submission pile before about a year later.

On it the band presents an interpretation of the style that is extremely faithful to the purest elements of the genre, and which caters especially to fans of the kind of pop-punk that is almost invariably up-tempo, high energy and which has a vocalist that sounds like very line of his is being delivered at full power while he's leaning over the barrier at a show and sweating into your face. As a fan of the genre you of of course know that such a style is hard to not enjoy, and for what it's worth, The Story So Far has here played and recorded it as proficiently as any of their contemporaries.

Now, originality is not as big a deal in this genre as it is in others, so I could probably forgive these guys for sounding so much like some of their contemporaries that you'd have to be a proper genre connoisseur to pick them out of a line-up on a blind listen. What I have trouble forgiving them for is the lack of melodic variety and simple catchiness of "Under Soil And Dirt", which - while it is hardly a dull record - just does not strike me as being anywhere near as instantly infectious as is normally the main strength of the best pop-punk bands in the game.

There are songs though, like "Quicksand", that become recognisable and singalongable after a few listens, as do "Placeholder" and "Mt. Diable", both of which are among the few tracks to mix up the energy of the record just a little, with the latter easily being the main highlight of the record. Still though, even if these songs aren't bad, and even if the overall quality is quite close to them, this feels to me like an effort that belongs in the second rather than first tier of the genre. It may sound like a shallow evaluation but hey, this is pop-punk, not rocket science, if it's greater than most it should be jumping right in my face instantly, and after 10+ listens, I'm sorry to report that I'm just not feeling it. Par for the course in the genre, nothing less, nothing more.


Download: Mt. Diablo, Quicksand, Placeholder
For The Fans Of: City Lights, Me Vs Hero, I Call Fives, This Time Next Year, Set Your Goals

Release Date 21.06.2011
Pure Noise Records

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