Story Of The Year is looking to make a splash in the rock world again with the release of their latest album, Tear Me To Pieces. Being described as a “defining moment” in the band’s career, this newest release has everything from catchy choruses to self-reflective themes, all the things that have excited me for this release since mid-2022 with the release of lead single, “Real Life.”
But are fast-paced instrumentals and emotionally overloading lyrics enough to keep returning fans and new listeners interested? Let’s find out.
The album’s second single and title track, “Tear Me To Pieces,” connected with me on an emotional level quicker than most songs. The track’s hard-hitting instrumentals and intricate subject matter create the perfect self-reflection experience.
Instantly having me fall in love with Story Of The Year again, I quickly became extremely excited to hear what other songs would be paired alongside this one. I was not disappointed—the perfect track to immediately kick things off and connect with listeners.
“Tear Me To Pieces” has everything I need to hear in my 30s and does very little to belittle the fears that come with anxiety—creating a unique escape experience from life’s current and mundane social media-obsessed lifestyles. A less than 30-minute therapy session quickly taming any overflowing emotional outburst.
Competing against “Tear Me To Pieces” is no easy task. Still, the album’s lead single, “Real Life,” manages to perfect itself as an exceptional sidekick that continues to fuel the band’s emotional narrative that, in turn, sparks nostalgic callbacks to the band’s previous works.
“Maybe there’s beauty in the pain.” A lyric has not cut me this deep since a handful from the first time I listened to Box Car Racer’s “There Is.” With “Real Life,” Story Of The Year manages to break down every wall I’ve constructed over the years in a little over 2-minutes.
Showcasing the hardships of making a relationship work, “Real Life” is musical medicine at its finest. I might not find myself having this track on repeat all too often compared to others on Tear Me To Pieces, but I guarantee when I need a good kick to the heart or a reminder that relationships are complex, “Real Life” will quickly be my go-to track.
Continuing on the strands of “Tear Me To Pieces” and “Real Life,” “Afterglow” is the perfect track to get your heart beating and blood rushing. Not skipping on the emotional weight Story Of The Year is conveying with this release, “Afterglow” doubles as the perfect gym track to keep you pumped between sets.
“You’re the perfect afterglow” will be stuck in your head after giving “Afterglow” a few listens, as the track is highly addictive while also not being directly my favorite of the bunch. Sticking to their usual formula, Story Of The Year fans should have zero issues falling fast for this one.
Featuring the band’s brand of breakdowns, “Afterglow” is pure fun and a quick way to lose yourself in the blaring sound and euphoric melodies of this new era of the band.
Are you feeling a little angry? “Dead and Gone” has you covered! Tear Me To Pieces is quickly becoming Story Of The Year’s rock re-telling of the animated film Inside Out. “Dead And Gone” is filled with angst and “fuck you” attitude that I can already hear the sound of bedroom doors slamming.
One of my favorite non-singles off the album, “Dead and Gone,” makes itself easy to follow along to the beat that if it’s not featured on Story Of The Year’s setlist, I will be disappointed. A track so perfect for a live show experience it’s driving me crazy to think about; a wall of fans screaming back, moshing, having fun, and overall just becoming one with the band. It’s a beautiful sight to imagine.
“Dead and Gone” is more on the fast-paced spectrum of sound, quickly throwing blaring guitars against the wall while losing itself to the sweet vocal delivery of Dan Marsala. This one will be stuck in my head for a good while.
A pure throwback to the early 2000s, “War” is phenomenal. Telling the story about revenge and the lengths taken continues the unrest storyline Story Of The Year is hellbent on telling with this new album. I’ll admit, when this track was released as a single back in January, I wasn’t a big fan, but I let it marinate, and I found myself loving the ins and outs of the track more with each listen until I couldn’t get the lyric, “the higher the wall, the harder you fall,” out of my head.
“War” is classic Story Of The Year at its finest. If you’re a listener who wishes for the band to go back in time, here’s the track for you. “War” is easily the track I head-banged to the most off the album, which, in turn, also makes it the most headache-inducing track. In all the right ways, of course.
A track like this, simply put, is perfect to lose yourself to. Get off your chair, turn your speakers up as loud as possible, and enjoy the crazy soundscape Story Of The Year has to present.
“Can’t Save You” is probably the track I had the slightest connection with, and most of the time, I would find myself skipping to jump right into “2005.” Instrumentally, the track doesn’t do much for me besides some little outbursts of energy-driven breakdowns.
The track’s tone could fit within the narrative told throughout the album, but sometimes it comes off as trying too hard. I’m sure there will be fans that love this track; I sadly just am not one of them. Who knows, though? It might become a “War” situation where if you ask me a few months from now, it might be one of my most repeated.
Bringing the energy to a slow-paced backdrop, “2005” is an emotional juggernaut in terms of life moving too fast. Quickly filling the air with nostalgia, “2005” lyrically became my favorite track. It’s vibrant, self-reflecting, and teaches listeners not to move too fast because time is all we have.
The rumbling bass lines taking center-stage on “2005” were also an ear-pleasing surprise, as the remainder of the track’s instrumentals take a more supportive role which helped me get lost quickly, wishing the track would somehow go on just a little longer.
Yet another track I hope finds its way onto the band’s setlist for the year, as it could supply a small break while not letting off the accelerator. A much-needed tearjerker that will probably live in my head rent-free for a while.
Hitting the one-two punch combo, “Sorry About Me” continues the heartbreaking onslaught that started with “2005.” I’ll admit, I cried my eyes out like a baby the first time I listened to this one. An emotional reaction I’m sure others will find themselves experiencing. “Sorry About Me” is pure perfection transformed into a well-thought, emotionally vulnerable warm hug that will melt even the coldest of hearts.
“Sorry About Me” manages to accomplish the impossible and topple “Tear Me To Pieces” as my overall favorite track. An emotional experience I haven’t shared with any song I’ve reviewed before. It’s a beautiful sentiment wrapped in whimsical melodies and acoustic fairytales that lead to powerful overtures and regressed memories.
Enough with the tears and regrets, Story Of The Year is ready to help you embrace the chaos of life through their pop-infused single, “Take The Ride.” Being the band’s most poppy single from this album cycle, “Take The Ride” is filled with pop-punk traits that will make you feel the need to go outside and ride around on your skateboard for a bit. The track is fun and filled with an impressive amount of good energy.
I have, however, seen many mention the track sharing similar aspects to that of “Ocean Avenue” by Yellowcard. While I can slightly hear it instrumentally, there’s another song that I have yet to remember that also shares the same melody structure used throughout the chorus.
But this is all music; almost every arrangement or riff has been shared for decades. So, not much to concern any listener with, especially with the essence of the track being to “let loose and let go.”
“Take The Ride” does a fantastic job of creating a soundscape that’s easy to enjoy and to share with friend groups or family that might not exactly enjoy the usual rock sound. This is a single for anyone who loves enjoying life and everything that comes with it.
“Knives Out” like “Can’t Save You” didn’t do much for me. It’s a fantastic track in its own right, but as a connective tissue, it comes off as more of a standalone virus. As mentioned, things may change after this review, and I’ll be the loudest one singing. Don’t get it fooled, though, “Knives Out” is still a fun track, just not to my taste.
Listeners will surely enjoy the heavier-sounding guitars featured throughout the track and the band’s more complex approach. Still, I suspect a handful of users to treat this track as a more passable affair. Now, when it comes to a live setting, I could see a track like “Knives Out” being a fun experience that could easily surpass the studio variant.
Ending things somberly, “Use Me” wraps up what should be considered one of Story Of The Year’s best albums in modern memory. The elastic melodies featured throughout the track’s almost 3-minute run-time are memorable, heartbreaking, and enough to keep listeners hooked for whatever comes next.
“Use Me” paired with “2005” and “Sorry About Me” is enough to break hearts and showcase the mastery of sound Story Of The Year brings to their albums. “Use Me” surpasses my expectations when thinking of how the band could nicely bookend the album with “Tear Me To Pieces,” and they didn’t disappoint.
“Use Me” is full of heart and a fantastic way to showcase what Story Of The Year can bring to the music world in 2023.
Story Of The Year’s latest album, Tear Me To Pieces, is precisely the type of album the band needed to release this year and an album I needed in my life this year. The narrative backbone featured throughout this new album is breathtaking, heart-pounding, and full of fun rock anthems that leaves a song for any style of listener.
Tear Me To Pieces should be seen in the same light as some of the band’s better releases, coming off at times as an emotional sequel to many and semi-return-to-form for the rockers. I’m excited to hear some of these songs performed later this year.
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