For nearly seven years, Free Throw has been a band capable of turning personal struggle into relatable, infectious music. With their third studio album, What’s Past Is Prologue, the band throws open the doors on their most personal struggles in their most lucid way, yet.

When reflecting on writing What’s Past Is Prologue, singer/guitarist Cory Castro said, “With the last record, I  was trying to talk about my mental health, but at the same time I was actually going through it. The last album felt like I was yelling from the void. This time, I’m looking back into the void and I’m able to understand what was going on.” The album, broken into two parts, first explores the weight of personal blame, then pivots to focus on the process of healing.

“Smokes, Let’s Go” initiates the album with gently plucked guitar and soft vocals that break into a screamed, emotional resolve. The song is introspective and somber, full of hurt and reflection, setting the scene for the album’s first half. “The Corner’s Dilemma,” the album’s lead single, dives into Castro’s difficulty with anxiety, existential crises, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Castro delivers vocals that run the gamut from gentle vocal fry to unadulterated shouting.

The instrumentation is an excellent blend of complex lead and breathy breaks. Holding an irresistible groove throughout the song, then ending in the classic pop-punk half-time variation of the verse, “The Corner’s Dilemma” is so musically fun that the isolated final line, “I think that I’ve wasted my whole life,” might just sweet the rug out from under a casual listener.

What’s Past Is Prologue’s first half undoubtedly serves as a fun listen, but it’s also frequently cathartically honest. From the upbeat “Anaconda Vice” to the mellower “Stay Out of the Basement,” Castro openly shares honest emotions and private experiences with mental health struggles as the fulcrum.

The album then shifts with “Today is Especially Delicious,” a bouncy song with playful rests and dynamic wit. When Castro reaches the line, “I need a hand of some type to pull me up and break this cycle of drinking for breakfast,” the album enters the second part: Castro’s healing phase.

From the glassy intro of “Monte Luna” to the bright title track, Castro takes us along his journey of change and growth. There are inevitable signs of emotional pain throughout this second half, but this kind of emotional pain is a raw truth of learning to cope with mental health issues.

The final lines of the album speak volumes to the state of Free Throw as a band and Castro as a person. He gently sings, “For the first time in four months I can say I didn’t think about my choices. Threw the almost empty pack away. I could feel my lungs rejoice. I’m finally breathing, again.”

With an emotional beginning and a sweet, optimistic end, What’s Past Is Prologue captures Castro’s personal journey in beautiful, living color. Free Throw’s third studio album is catchy. It’s easy to get lost in the playful guitars and lyrics begging for a sing-along. Most importantly, the album doesn’t just help you forget the weight of the world—it gives you a direct example of how to shed that weight and emerge stronger than ever.

Purchase this album here.

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