Up until the release of Proper Dose, it had been approximately three years, four months and three days since The Story So Far released their last full-length record. For a portion of overzealous fans, this length of time was three years, four months and three days far too long. It began to feel like a running gag; anything The Story So Far posted on social media was met with jokingly testy demands for the new record. Like obsessively watching a clock, it felt like fans had been waiting for the album a lot longer, and in a way, we were. Finally, the new record is here. Say hello to Proper Dose.
My initial reaction to the opening of the title track is that this record isn’t going to be a complete departure from their old sound. Proper Dose (the track) is faintly familiar, mostly due to Ryan Torf’s trademark rhythms. Proper Dose (the album) has many moments where I am drawn to reminisce about The Story So Far’s past work; Let It Go and Take Me As You Please display the same level of intricacy in guitar playing I expect from Will Levy and Kevin Geyer, and in Need To Know they manage to retain their old sound in the verses and pre-chorus, and then effortlessly blend those sections with the newer style in the chorus and outro.
From the very beginning, the change in vocal style is obvious. However, I welcome this change with open arms; stylistically Parker’s vocals are following suit with the calmer attitude of the record, and technique-wise I believe that this collection of songs will be easier for him to tour with. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t still moments where Parker allows himself to fall back into his trademark snarls of anger, such as in Keep This Up. The production of Parker’s vocals is also agreeable. The only place in the record where I thought it was too much was in Take Me As You Please. This is a track that could have been Proper Dose’s Placeholder, but the production makes Parker’s vocal sounds too robotic, which takes away from the rawness of the track.
There’s no denying that Proper Dose is exceptional, but it has its’ imperfections. The chorus in Light Year is awkward, and it’s too much of a filler track to close the record on; Light Year simply doesn’t hold a candle to Closure and Framework. However, I will take Light Year over Line, which for me was the lowest point on the record. The whole instrumental sounded like an uninspired version of The Fallen Interlude from Blink 182’s self titled. I can understand where The Story So Far were going with this, but nothing of interest goes on in the almost 3 minutes it takes for the track to be over.
Some fans feel as if The Story So Far have become something unexpected, and almost feel left behind by their latest collection of songs. I don’t feel like these fans were left behind, I think they just weren’t paying attention. Proper Dose is a progression in style that The Story So Far have been developing from the release of Songs Of, but the album still feels like a love letter to their past works, with a more thought out and mature form of fury.