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The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing (Cover Artwork)

The Wonder Years

The Wonder Years: Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm NothingSuburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing (2011)
Hopeless Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
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Contributed by: BryneBryne
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The Wonder Years' new album is called Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing, a line partially lifted from Allen Ginsberg's 1956 poem, America. If you think that's a somewhat heady subject for a typical pop-punk band to be tackling, odds are you aren't alone. But the Wonder Years are anythi.
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The Wonder Years' new album is called Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing, a line partially lifted from Allen Ginsberg's 1956 poem, America. If you think that's a somewhat heady subject for a typical pop-punk band to be tackling, odds are you aren't alone. But the Wonder Years are anything but a typical pop-punk band, even if they may have began as one and largely functioned as one up until the release of 2010's excellent The Upsides. That record saw the band grow immensely more comfortable in their own skin lyrically, offering quite a bit of introspection, intelligence and social consciousness to a genre that often lacks all three of those attributes, and all without sacrificing the fun, relatability or accessibility that makes pop-punk enjoyable. Suburbia expands on those notions, showcases some subtle-but-needed musical growth, and finds the Wonder Years at the top of their game in virtually all aspects.

"Came Out Swinging" surely lives up to its name. It's a driving, anthemic opener with a huge chorus and some subtly neat tempo changes, assets the Wonder Years utilize early and often on Suburbia. Steve Evetts' retrofitted production is immediately apparent: These songs sound warm and timeless, which shouldn't be a surprise coming from the guy that recorded Jersey's Best Dancers and Through Bring Cool, but it serves the songs here rather perfectly.

Also immediately apparent are the strides vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell has taken. "Woke Up Older", besides being a cleverly introspective song about aging, showcases Campbell's improvements behind the mic. Virtually gone are the more nasally inflections that made The Upsides a difficult sell for a lot of folks, replaced with a more straightforward but still identifiable yell. It's raw, it's passionate, and it fits the collective vibe of these songs quite well.

Beyond that, catchiness abounds throughout Suburbia. "Local Man Ruins Everything" and "My Life as a Pigeon" are both built on memorable choruses, with the former incorporating some nice leads as well as some well-placed gang vocals (because what is new-school pop-punk without gang vocals?), while the latter is a bit bouncier and traditional in its execution.

Suburbia stumbles ever so slightly in its midsection. "Summers in PA" is an enjoyable enough track, but lyrically it's not up to par with the rest of the material here. Conversely, the anti-religion song that follows it in "I Won't Say the Lord's Prayer" is a bit too on-the-nose to convey a poignant message. Though they're not complete duds, there's no question that these two songs could've used some more tweaking.

Luckily, things pick back up rather quickly with "Coffee Eyes" and "Don't Let Me Cave In", the album's two strongest tracks. "Coffee" is aggressive and personal, but never alienating, and the chorus is particularly strong. "Cave" uses a similar attack but never sacrifices the melody, even as Campbell's vocals become more abrasive than anything else on the album.

Also worth mentioning are the three tracks that make up this album's title. "Surburbia", "I've Given You All" and "And Now I'm Nothing" (tracks 4, 9 and 13, respectively) offer a sonic break from the action, as it were, and the Wonder Years do an admirable job of maintaining interest, which of course is helped by Campbell's stark lyrical content that paints a less-than-positive outlook on past experiences. "Nothing" runs a little long at five minutes, but it's a mostly successful experiment into poppier, less aggressive material. While certainly not a notion the band should take to heavier task on their next release, it's a fitting end to a sprawling, engrossing album in Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing that further cements the Wonder Years as standard bearers in modern pop-punk.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Bomb the Music Industry! - VacationTouché Amoré - Parting the Sea Between Brightness and MeJoyce Manor - Joyce ManorThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Wonder Years - The UpsidesRed City Radio - The Dangers of Standing StillPolar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt PrideAndrew Jackson Jihad - Knife ManBanner Pilot - Heart Beats PacificThe Menzingers - On the Impossible Past

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
SydBarrett420 (April 11, 2012)

LOL how stupid are you people? I expect this kind of gushing over garbage from sputnikmusic and ap.net, not from the org. This is your typical, paint by numbers crap that everyone will spooge over for a year and then throw in the dust bin.

Oh and if you want good pop punk go listen to a Bayside record. AT least they know who they are as a band and what they are doing from record to record.

SwissCheese (March 13, 2012)

Some top-notch songs on this album!! Good review

Terko64 (September 28, 2011)

So far, this is the best album of 2011. They crushed this one. #word

drews (June 26, 2011)

They outdid themselves in every way on this one. Great record.

paulrulzdood (June 17, 2011)

just want to add that yes, the drumming on this album is freakin' fantastic.

lmchc (June 17, 2011)

this is a grower, not a shower

Dycelot (June 16, 2011)

i like the tight rhythm section i guess, just a frequent critic of the lyrics and vocals. the predictable melody structure of the vocals forces the musicianship to cater to the basic pop punk formula during the verses and choruses. All of the best work is done when dan campbell isn't singing. thats a glaring problem.

coldwaraaron (June 16, 2011)

that drumming is most certainly not "disney channel", sir.

paulrulzdood (June 16, 2011)

a solid pop-punk album overall, but I don't think its necessarly better or an improvemnet over "the upsides" (which was a HUGE improvement over their first album).

This just sounds like the next logical step for them, Upsides part 2 if you will. It's not as poppy, catchy or happy as the Upsides. Dude's vocals are less nasally and high. Everything is more aggressive this time around, everything is faster, riffs are harder, fills are more complex and the vocals are more "shouty" and rough. Steve Evetts i'm sure is to thank for the sonic differences and the stepped up aggression (and I don't mean hardcore aggression, it just sounds more akin to their live show and less gloss, less pop and studio polish). They wanted to sound sonically like Lifetime, they didn't want a glossy Neal Avron sound and they succeeded. But i don't think it works any better for them, just makes their recording sound more like they do live. not sure if that's better than polish.

So that's all well and good, they accomplished what they wanted to sonically with a more abrasive, less polished sound and a faster more aggressive sound (yet this is still pop-punk to be sure).

Lyrically it picks up where Upsides left off, open-diary personal lyrics about touring, south-Philly, relationships, friendships, nostalgia, etc., the typical endearing pop-punk themes and same themes as the last one. But the hooks just aren't quite as good, the songs are rougher, but not as catchy as a result. Its a little more mature and "punk-rock" sounding, but the hooks and vocals just don't soar like they did on Upsides.

Some of their best songs are on here for sure, but the middle section lags and that song about religion is awful. Subject matter aside, it's just not a good song. And I'm agnostic so i have no issue wtih the lyrics, he's saying things i've already considered over a decade ago, but it just sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of the album and the little "suburbia" and "i've given you all" interludes are pointless. "coffee eyes" is also a true dud with a terrible hook. So in the end you've got about 8 good tracks.

But the good songs are really great. Track 2 might be the best thing they've written. If you're a fan of the genre (I guess early 2000s pop-punk with a rougher edge), you'll like it. One of very few bands today that hits the way Midtown, NFG, STD, etc. hit a decade ago and set the standard for this type of music.

Paul

exitenglish1208 (June 15, 2011)

really really love this album. top five of the year probly

jacknife737 (June 14, 2011)

I dig it, though i'm not sure if it's better than the upsides.

Dycelot (June 14, 2011)

i'm sorry, but I still don't get it. i've listened to this album a bunch and i'm still not hearing anything I wouldn't find on the disney channel outside of the guitar tracks. I know Alternative Press named this their most anticipated album of 2011 and Punknews was obligated to fall in line by providing a positive review (despite my mediocre review for a mediocre record and mediocre band), but if you pull the guitar tracks away, lets face it. this is marianas trench stuff. "This is how I'm spending six AM, Scraping ice off a windshield, freezing
I'm late to work again, Another double shift"
Seriously? Welcome to Canada. This isn't life as a pigeon, this is life past 15 years old. Why would this band lump having a drivers license (which most canadian kids pull double shifts to maintain) in with paying their punk rock dues? where? in disney channel world. can't give good marks to this. this band has potential though.

kursk64 (June 14, 2011)

Will check it out. Only have 'get stoked on it' or whatever it is called, and it is all just beepy annoying bomb the music industry noises. This should be better.

hashbrowns (June 14, 2011)

do not get the hype either.

holy_balls (June 14, 2011)

i don't get the hype.

CharlieLebowski (June 14, 2011)

Its growing on me with each listen. Really getting into this. Not as catchy as the upsides, but a little bit more direct.

hellobastards (June 14, 2011)

love it. even better than the upsides

coldwaraaron (June 14, 2011)

catchy at first listen, but then with repeated listens i realized how freaking good these guys actually are. Some of the drumming is as good if not better than most pop/punk. Solid album.

TheWalkingTargets (June 14, 2011)

god damn I love this.

NobleStabbings (June 14, 2011)

It grew on me.

wearestillalive (June 14, 2011)

SO sick of this band. I just find them underwhelming. Yeah, they've changed a lot from their first records but I don't see what's so great about a band going from shit to average over the course of a few years. I just really do not get what people see in this band, which wouldn't be a problem if not for the fact that pretty much everyone on the internet seems to worship them right now.

JVoland (June 14, 2011)

This band has come a LONG way from their first, very terrible full length. "Suburbia..." is an honest to god great record.

mattramone (June 14, 2011)

Needs moar Wunder Years.

nick_k (June 14, 2011)

I didn't like this kind of stuff really until I heard The Upsides. This new record is even better than that surprisingly.

hayman (June 14, 2011)

I'll give it a shot.

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