The Golden Years - A Boy's Words (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Golden Years

A Boy's Words (2005)

Invisible Hand

"The Wonder Years" was always one of my favorite TV shows as a teenager. The blend of humor and drama on those Nick-At-Nite reruns always hit a good spot with me, and I'd probably still watch the show if it was actually put on the air. The Wonder Years are those teenage years of discovery that we all go through, as opposed to "The Golden Years," which are the years we'll all eventually encounter while playing shuffleboard on the top deck of a cruise ship while sipping iced tea through a straw. Well, by channeling Bob Dylan on their album A Boy's Words, the Golden Years have probably taken a few years off the end of my life.

The singer for the Golden years is virtually indecipherable; he plays the acoustic guitar, employs a harmonica in a few of his songs, but I really don't think any of these songs are going to replace "All Along The Watchtower" as a personal favorite of mine. Gravelly, off-key voice or not, Bob Dylan has that intangible quality that can never be taught, and there's no elements of any of that to be found on this album, leaving the singer's voice to be more annoying than anything.

That's not to say there's no attempt here to inject some meaning or emotion into the music, as these songs really feel like they have a genuine nature to them, but I just can't get into any of them. The man can play guitar with a fair level of competence, but even there I find myself tuning a lot of it out. Not because it's bad, just because it's so lacking any sort of quality to make it stand out, and the voice is grating on my nerves. A lot of this could be due to recording quality, as it sounds very much like the band went to the John Darnielle school of audio recording. While that actually comes off quite well for Darnielle, the quality here plagues a recording that already only had one leg to stand on.

I don't know quite what it is that's keeping me from really being an asshole about this record, because I really don't see anything musically redeeming about it. Maybe it's that this seems to be more of an unintentional homage to Bob Dylan, who I'm quite fond of. Whatever the reason, I can't trash this nor can I recommend it to you. For this band it seems that the sound they desire, is the Winnie Cooper that they'll never quite be able to catch. But hey, maybe Estelle Getty is available.