One Of The Best Bands In The World
It's telling what integrity can do when it's kept intact. Through never losing a drop of it over the past five years and instead adding to the amount they have, Philly heroes The Wonder Years have produced album after album that's fallen nothing short of something special, powered by Dan 'Soupy' Campbell's untouchable personal lyricisms that articulate the feelings that are dragging you down or raising you up to the sky.
Forming a trilogy about growing-up, the band have arguably delivered a trilogy of classics that are going to hold up for years to come, and on the third and final part The Greatest Generation they've well and truly knocked the ball out of the park. This is an album that's going to be in the business end of countless end of year lists and looked back on as a turning-point for its genre.
Opening with the staggering There, There, one of the best songs of the band's career, Soupy's intensely confessional lyrics, "I'm sorry I don't laugh at the right times...I'm awkward and nervous", are met with a beautifully weathered and melancholic musicality, like a soft rain brushing flowers on a windowsill, that's irrepressibly uplifting. The songs builds with a genius not many can match and the final "I've got my heart strung up on clothing line" refrain will make the hair on the back of anyone's neck stand on end.
From there on out, put simply, it's a total tune-fest. The brutally introspective Passing Through A Screen Door (The acronym of which spells out Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) has a similar tone to equally staggering 2011 album Suburbia: I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing and who's break-down of "Jesus Christ I'm 26...Did I fuck up?" will go down as a legendary TWY fan-favourite moment. The airy open-window passing-sunset feel of Madelyn is a moving letter from Soupy to its namesake to say that all's going to be ok whether they know it or not, "I know that the ghosts still visit nightly...I don't think that's the worst news of today". And album centre-piece The Devil In My Bloodstream ties its two halves together perfectly, a departure somewhat for the band with keyboardist/guitarist Nick Steinborn's keys ushering in Soupy's confessions of dealing with depression and of how it can really be the worst enemy most of the time. The huge melodies and harmonies that follow, see "I'm hoping I'm wroo-oooonnngggg", recall the early midwestern emo of the late 90s and leave you feeling both emotionally devastated and strangely uplifted, the pure spirit of emo living on and shining brightly through this most special of bands. On a similar note, the multi-vocals alongside Soupy courtesy of Steinborn, guitarist Matt Brasch and bassist Josh Martin remind of the subsequent emo explosion of the early to mid 00s and bring back the true multi-faceted link between voice and emotion that that movement innovated.
And this is just one of the things that makes album closer I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral a song that perhaps no other band similar to The Wonder Years could successfully pull off, let alone with such quality that you're firmly blown to the floor by the end of its near-eight minute length. Taking in lyrical and musical strands from the twelve songs that come before it and building its own identity around them, it's an absolute masterclass in how to end an album. To tell too much would be to give too much away but Soupy's leaving words of "I just want to know that I did all I could with what I was given" encapsulate all the hope in your own skin that this album represents.
Buy this, listen, read along and somehow, whoever you are, you'll probably find that you relate. Only the very best bands are capable of doing that.