The Wonder Years / All or Nothing - Distances [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Wonder Years / All or Nothing

Distances [7 inch] (2009)

No Sleep

The Wonder Years still haven't won me over, but the strides they've made since their abysmal first full-length are incredible. For their side of this split 7" with UK pop-punks All or Nothing, Distances, they continue improving by sounding less like a gimmicky keyboard-addled, hardcore-influenced pop-punk band with stupid lyrics. There seems like a greater focus on simply writing more serious-sounding but poppy cuts. "An Elegy for Baby Blue" utilizes some Lifetime-esque tempos, only a hint of that synth and just for a few lines does vocalist Soupy Campbell sound exactly like Kenny Vasoli. That comparison is longer-lasting in their other contribution, "Don't Open the Fridge!". I'm reluctant to say these songs are good, let alone great, but there's nothing on here that's inherently embarrassing like the stunts the band pulled on past releases (although, the line, ">Goddamn, what if they know of our plans to raise an army of homeless men in the basement?" is just dumb). Really only okay songs, but this band is getting better all the time.

All or Nothing play virtually the same type of music, maybe more directly in line with Set Your Goals and with no keyboard appendage. I'm not sure how I feel about their main lead vocals. It really sort of hampers an otherwise pretty good experience. It's not his accent or anything, but rather, it's like this bizarre cutesy operatic thing. The other guy has a bit more grit and sounds good, though, and frankly should probably just take over vocals period. Their cuts would be really enjoyable if those vocal issues were sorted out a bit. There's actually a part in "Summer Vacation in Providence" that sounds exactly like the transition just before the "some stop feeling love" line in SYG's "The Fallen." The bonus track, "This Is Very Impossible" is almost good enough to overcome the aforementioned faults.

A problematic split, to be sure. But it's entirely possible these two bands could break old habits and come out with something great next time around.

The Wonder Years - Don't Open the Fridge!
All or Nothing – I'm Not Being Rude, But I Could Have Had Your Job
All or Nothing - This Is Very Impossible