The Wonder Years

The Upsides

Written by: PP on 22/01/2010 22:35:12

There are exactly two routes you can take as a band after writing as amazing of a debut as The Wonder Years did with "Get Stoked On It!". You can either apply what you learned from writing the album into a slightly different, evolved sound, or you can do what most punk bands do, and write the same album again, which is precisely what The Wonder Years have done on "The Upsides", with a few cosmetic adjustments here and there. And considering "Get Stoked On It" is undeniably the best pop punk / hardcore hybrid album ever recorded, why shouldn't they? So ladies and gents, prepare to be stoked on, you guessed it, "Get Stoked On It! - part two". But before you get too stoked, let it be known that the energy and the excitement of a debut album can never be replicated fully, which is why "The Upsides" will inevitably feel like a bit of a let down, at least in the beginning.

A part of this can probably be attributed to the fact that the band are no longer high school students, they're all in college, which reflects directly on the lyrical universe; the band are way more serious now than before. That's right, no more silly lyrics about ninjas and pirates at school proms, or cracking Captain Crunch's neck. Instead, the band are starting to define themselves around the concept of "realist pop punk". The humour's still there, but it's of the bittersweet kind: Soupy now sings about doing keg stands, going out to bars, about plans failing to execute the way they were meant to. If you're in college right now, expect these lyrics to hit home - hard. Generally I'm reading a feeling of loneliness, a feeling of not-belonging from in between the lines. "I'm not sad anymoooore", he cries in at least a couple of places across the record, but the tone of his voice tells the opposite.

So what should you make of it? It's different, for sure, but underneath the "realist pop punk" you can still hear the band that we fell in love with on "Get Stoked On It!", one that fires irresistible vocal melodies, moshable breakdowns in just the right places, and ridiculously catchy choruses on all cylinders. Just one that has grown up slightly, without sacrificing anything from their sound. "Logan Circle", "New Years With Carl Weathers", "Melrose Diner", "Washington Square Park", "My Last Semester".... yeah, there's more than enough here to hook everyone who was stoked on these guys before, and why not new fans as well.

Now some of you may have heard the band exploring a more polished guitar sound on a few EPs and splits in between the two records, which was OK, but I think we can all agree that we missed the sharp, unpolished roughness around the edges of each guitar riff. The raw, vibrant ring makes a welcome return to the guitars on every song, and when you combine that with the band's ability to wrap mammoth choruses around fast paced, but oh-so-bright and positively energetic punk rockers, I think it's safe to say we have a winner. Am I stoked on this release? Fuck yeah, maybe not as much as the debut, which is still in constant rotation in my stereo, but enough for this record to do exactly what I expected it to do in the first place: to cement The Wonder Years as the very best pop punk / hardcore band band; If you had any doubts on "Get Stoked On It!", then "The Upsides" will prove that TWY are the best band in the genre.


Download: New Years With Carl Weathers, Melrose Diner, Washington Square Park
For the fans of: With The Punches, Four Year Strong, New Found Glory, Fireworks
Listen: Myspace

Release date 26.01.2010
No Sleep Records

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