Most bands want their latest work to be their best, but few succeed. For a band like Story of the Year it’s difficult and easy at the same time. It’s difficult because their body of work is outstanding; “Page Avenue” was awesome, as was “In the Wake of Determination.” But it’s easy because these guys are so good; even though this is really only their third studio album, it feels like it’s their tenth because their music isn’t just contagious and energized, it’s also intelligent. On Story of the Year’s new album a number of topics are covered; patriotism, war, and general ignorance, a lot like a number of Epitaph releases. But the difference with “The Black Swan” is the music is accessible enough that somehow the message is delivered better. Whether the song is the catchy single “Wake Up” or the ballad “Terrified” the message is delivered well, and that’s what sets “The Black Swan” above the band’s previous two studio sets. It’s intelligent and it’s delivered intelligently. With Page Avenue we got some great songs but a lot of them were introspective, as opposed to “The Black Swan” where we get a set that takes a social and political view of our world. It’s one thing to sing about being political; it’s a different thing to have the music be just as good as the message on a socially-conscience album. Story of the Year has a very accessible sound that lies somewhere between TRUST Company and The Used. They use the anthem-like choruses like both aforementioned bands. Also like The Used, they incorporate a lot of hardcore elements into their sound. And also like TRUST Company, they have a unique songwriting ability that attacks you at a variety of angles. Everything in the music is like a hook; guitar, drums, vocals, bass- everything is memorable when you listen through it. Few bands can pull that off. That sound makes Story of the Year one of the best bands going right now. “The Black Swan” is a great effort from the band and their best work to date.