It’s wrong to say The Story So Far have grown up. Their wonderfully juvenile debut LP was one of those fuck-you-motherfucker releases us nihilistic douchebags turned into cuddle up music. “You’re the worst you terrible idiot,” is me paraphrasing – but also pretty accurate. So then, what now? Well, a couple of years go by and we get something like What You Don’t See. Should singer Parker Cannon still be so pissed he can barely stand? Should the band still run through every single Set Your Goals song as if they’ve had a couple extra sips of (2010-era) FourLoko? Enthusiastically, yes!
Look, even though I’m about to expend about 1 BILLION words writing this review, it’s as simple as this: I can’t help but learn these lyrics just so I can scream them. Pop-punk flirting with hardcore this still is. Great. Move on if that seems disingenuous. Except wait, screw you. I’d go on a pretty far limb to say that The Story So Far are one of those bands just calling it as they see it. Whether these break-ups are their fault or not is a moot point. The songs that result are so heartfelt and raw that blame and circumstance barely even matter.
Every track basically plays out the same (although the production here is just INSANE – guitars sound huge, drums slap your momma, etc), but the urgency on songs like opener “Things I Can’t Change” and mid-record standout “The Glass” force you to the pit, even if just mentally. Cannon’s lyrics are full of eff-you-isms, but he’s clearly been reading some books, as is the case on “Bad Luck”: “I let this blind me / Forlorn in sullen head / Suffer your ill intent.” College, bros.
But as loud as What You Don”t See seems at first blush, it’s really quite thoughtful. Closer “Framework” plays with our emotions through smash-mouth singing and quick moments of instrumental reflection. “All Wrong” recounts the difficulties of keeping relationships while touring with symbolic gang vocals and break-the-fourth-wall lyrics, “No solace I miss the fuck out of all my friends / I think back to sleeping on the back bench / Wish I’d let the absence tell them all of the things that I can’t .” God, immaturity is overrated.
It kills me when reviews spend their time referencing a different album, but I’m a hypocrite, so I feel it necessary to say that Under Soil and Dirt found me at a tough time. I was unsure how What You Don’t See would hit me since I’m “different.” It’s so special to know that this band wasn’t a time/place thing, but one who has tapped into my somewhat obnoxious need to hear people remind me that what is forthcoming is most likely going to be better. The Story So Far can easily be described as sadsacks, but that’s missing the point. You don’t sing lyrics like, “Grace me with nothing but patience” if you aren’t poised for prosperity.