The Wonder Years

Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing

Written by: PP on 15/07/2011 06:32:02

The Wonder Years have come a long way after spearheading the pop-hardcore explosion with their brilliant debut "Get Stoked On It!". Since then, they have become the foremost icons in what is commonly referred to as reactionary pop punk, a collection of bands tired of the genre being associated with singing about girls and broken hearts in cheesy and over-polished songs that have next to nothing to do with punk. So they've re-invented the genre by inserting heartfelt honesty and a sense of raw, unadulterated, unpolished emotion about issues that really matter. The realist topics, which deal with problems and challenges facings today's typical youth who haven't gone to colleges or universities, who are living paycheck-to-paycheck, who are in a constant struggle to meet their daily needs, as opposed to these suburban phonies whose biggest problems are that their girlfriend cheated on them or that they can't get the girl that they love.

In the process, The Wonder Years have learned a lot about songwriting and their own musical identity. Gone are the silly lyrics about moshing to stay fit ("Let's Moshercise!!!") and the hardcore-style breakdowns that made their early material feel so energetic and fun, replaced by mature songs about the main street that are more aligned towards rock than punk. Previous album "The Upsides" was where the transition began, but it was a necessary learning experience needed to arrive at an artistically complete and a genre-defining release like this one, "Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing". From the pop-hardcore roots and silly lyrics has risen a band that amazes not just through a unique and instantly recognizable identity musically, but also through the brutally honest and, at times, incredible lyricism that truly defines and underlines what is depicted by the catch-phrase "realist pop punk".

Through sleeping on hundreds of floors and experiencing what it truly means to be poor, The Wonder Years have come up with lyrical gems like "Hey Jess, I woke up older, Carrying two years in the bags under my eyes", "It’s not about forcing happiness; It’s about not letting the sadness win" or "Growing up means watching my heroes turn human in front of me / The songs we wrote at eighteen seem shortsighted and naïve". It's hard to fathom the lyricist is the same guy who only four years ago wrote and sang about disconnecting Captain Crunch's neck and about pirates and ninjas.

In that context, it is only natural that the songwriting has evolved with the thinking minds behind the band. The gang shouts and the original sound by the band is still there, but both have been integrated in a more meaningful and subtle manner where you can tell that the songs are, simply put, better written. There's a considerable sense of melancholia, nostalgia, acceptance of poorness and the aftermath of the financial crisis (implicitly), but yet a hidden feeling of optimism, a will to fight and to live on no matter what challenges life throws in front of you.

Strictly musically speaking, it means that the band have moved more towards Boys Night Out-style writing with angular, intellectual musicianship, leading me to confirm what I always thought: BNO were years ahead of their time back then, and it is only now people are starting to latch onto pop punk that concentrates on serious real-life issues and topics. Be sure to check out "Trainwreck" by those guys, hands down one of the best concept albums in existence.

Now, it's interesting to mention the idea of a concept album in the context of "Suburbia...", because it is not a concept album. At least not intentionally. But the leitmotif of main street and the constant struggle ensure that the theme of the album as a whole is so similar that it ends up feeling like a concept album. That's how uniform and cohesive their songwriting has become in 2011, and why they are considered to be the leaders in the genre. Incidentally, that is also why so many - including yours truly - consider "Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing" one of the best albums of 2011.


Download: Came Out Swinging, Local Man Ruins Everything, Woke Up Older, You Made Me Want To Be A Saint
For the fans of: With The Punches, Man Overboard, Boys Night Out
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.06.2011
No Sleep Records / Hopeless Records

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