The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I Have Nothing

Band – The Wonder Years
Album – Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing
Label – Hopeless Records
Release date – Out Now
Sounds like – rollicking punk rock air-punching excitement, drenched in sweat and beer.

I only discovered The Wonder Years a few months back on a Rock Sound CD and was, if you pardon the cheesy expression – hooked. Their songs are a huge rush of spirited punk rock and storytelling. Apparently they’ve been around for 7 years, but this is the first I’ve heard of them.

As album titles go, it’s quite a mouthful. Taken from the Alan Ginsberg poem ‘America’, ‘Suburbia…’, tells ‘the story so far’ if you will, of The Wonder Years. It seems packed with references to their past releases (lyrical call-backs litter every song, as well as nods to Saves The Day and Ginsberg’s ‘America’. It’s a nice idea – a sort of concept pop-punk album if you will.

‘Came Out Swinging’ fades in through a sampled, confused voice and a drum roll before exploding with vocalist Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell bellowing “MOVED ALL MY SHIT INTO MY PARENT’S BASEMENT AND OUT OF OUR OLD APARTMENT…” as he begins a long list of ailments and a desire to stay young, despite the stress, pressures and fatigue of a hectic lifestyle. There’s a sense of ‘world weary’ in Soupy’s lyrics, especially “my heart keeps saying stay young, my lower back seems to disagree” – but it’s the boisterous energy and barely restrained glee with which these words are spat which seem to say otherwise – singing about being shattered in a exuberant way is the new black. It’s obviously a song about the pressures of touring – “I spent the year as a ghost…” – never settling, roaming across America, across Europe, across the world possibly. “I’m not sure where home is anymore” – The Wonder Years should tour with Touche Amore. It’s hopeful though; “I spent the winter, writing songs about getting better and if I’m honest…I’m getting there” roars Soupy, in an enthused bear-like growl.

I’m still trying to decide what I like most about ‘Woke Up Older’; early contender for my track of the year. The lyrics aren’t as good as ‘Came Out Swinging’ but the chorus – my god the chorus. It’s a huge anthemic hook of enormous sing-along proportions: “HEY JESS, I WOKE UP OLDER CARRYIN’, TWO YEARS OF BAGGAGE UNDER MY EYES!” It’s one of those songs that the fans absolutely bellow from the rooftops – it’s a fist-pumping raucous shout of barely restrained energy and rampant enthusiasm. I think though, it’s because the chorus seems to have a similar structure to ‘Shoulder The Wheel’ by Saves The Day (a track which is referenced on the last track of this album).

‘My Life As A Pigeon’ is a mixture of Guttermouth punk rock – it’s snotty and abrasive, yet has that vibrant, fresh-faced appeal of New Found Glory. It’s also relentlessly optimistic, which is what ‘Suburbia…’ seems to harness – it points out areas where things need improvement, but punches itself on the shoulder and says “life could be worse, so let’s make it better – let’s make the most of our situation, let’s not dwell, yeah?” ‘Summers in PA’ exemplifies this the most – the chorus:

“There’s something about weeknights in the suburbs
And there’s something about me and all my friends
Kings of awkward situations
The plum blossoms are falling
I’m more than happy going down with them.
”

It’s soppy as fuck, but damn – it’s the kind of honest, passionate, gang-mentality punk rock spirit that makes music feel so alive and visceral. ‘Coffee Eyes’ is a heady slice of melodic rock, dipping into some heavy drum rolls, mellow passages but still this gutsy determination and snappy, punk rock barks of wanting to succeed, brimming with positive vibes and agitated aggression.

‘Don’t Let Me Cave In’ is a Four Year Strong-worthy circle pit of hard, fast and dangerous punk rock. It draws much on what made ‘Coffee Eyes’ sound so personal, yet swaps out the mellow passages and melodic rock, for hefty slices of vibrant punk energy, fist-waving mid-sections, gang-vocal cries “DON’T! LET ME CAVE IN!” and yet another HUGE sonic-sing-a-long chorus, with vocalist Soupy touching some nerves and hearts with his passionate delivery. In contrast, ‘You Made Me Want To Be A Saint’ is just over 90 seconds of near-hardcore punk ferocity; gang-vocal swear-a-thon choruses, taunt punchy guitar lines and dual-vocal call-and-return under a barrage of pissed-off chords.

‘Suburbia, I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing’ is a kicking and beating heart of the current new-pop punk scene and it’s an album I can’t recommend enough. A superb, uplifting collection of songs, packed with gutsy, “I want to hug you and jump around like a lunatic” choruses, along with a heavy dose of speed and snapping charm.

Links

The Wonder Years
The Wonder Years Myspace
Hopeless Records

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Lizard Hips

Junior Vice President of Keep It Fast. In other news: I work in social media, talk about dinosaurs, run a book club and have amazing facial hair. I am also a male man who is still not dead.

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