The Wonder Years

Album Review: The Wonder Years – Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing

I am entirely new to The Wonder Years with this album, their third full length release ‘Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing’. Having done a little bit of research, the most obvious thing about TWY is that their fanbase are a devoted and passionate bunch of people. As such, reviewing this album is a little daunting, but at the same time also a pleasure. ‘Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing’ is a fantastic album.

The whole record is comfortably pop punk, which can be a dirty phrase these days because of some of the bands it has become synonymous with. That does not apply here – opener “Came Out Swinging” kicks things off with a line from Allen Ginsberg’s poem “America” with a statement of intent: “My mind is made up, there’s going to be some trouble.” This is what I find beautiful about this entire album – the pop punk sound, the melodies, the typical drums, they all fit so nicely together with such a grand vision. The lyrics throughout the whole record are poetic and meaningful. This is not a pop punk album that encourages long walks on the beach or partying into the night. This is a real concept album.

As such, I point a finger of blame at the production quality. At times, I found myself loving the effect it has on the sound of certain songs. “I’ve Given The Wonder Years Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing ArtworkYou All” is a beautiful 100-second acoustic ballad which benefits from the almost demo-like sound quality of the production. Then again, a concept album relies on lyrics and sometimes the vocals are buried far too deep in the mix, making them a little hard to decipher. This is almost criminal on ‘You Made Me Want To Be A Saint’ which is a pounding tribute to a friend of the band who passed away – the lyrics clear with dedication when you read them, but when actually listening to vocalist Soupy without a visual aid, it can be tough to know exactly what is being said.

Any other complaints would be nitpicking. If you have to read along with the lyrics during your playback of the album, then fine, you are almost certain to have an awesome experience, it is not a hindrance. Once you have learned them, you will be singing along to ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ with everything you have got: “I’m not a self-help book; I’m just a fucked up kid.” This is a very human album. Not always relatable, yet always relevant.

A pop punk album this may be, but I compare it to The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘The ’59 Sound.’ A mastercraft of the genre that will be seen as such, or sure as hell ought to be. Even the closing songs on both of those albums give me the same feeling – that everything preceding those songs lead up to that defining, concluding moment. ‘And Now I’m Nothing’ is an obvious standout here, and the final lines of “I know we’ve got miles to go, but I’m putting my shoulder to the wheel” sums up what this album is about. It is a snapshot. It is human, and very powerful.

The Wonder Years have managed something very special with ‘Suburbia I’ve Give You All And Now I’m Nothing.’ They have made pop punk more than what it is usually viewed as by the mainstream media. Poetic, artistic, and downright fun, The Wonder Years are far from nothing thanks to this outstanding release.

Rating: 9

     

About Scott Wilson

Having spent the last twenty years of his life telling his friends his opinion of the latest release by every band he has ever heard of, Scott is an enthusiastic journalist and keen writer. A fan of every genre of music, though his heart firmly belongs to rock, he has been spending far too much money on gigs and not enough on digs. Reachable by either email or Twitter where copious amounts of commentating and general excitement can also be found.

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