Album Review: "Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing”- The Wonder Years
Let’s be honest. The Wonder Years hit the musical equivalent of a Grand Slam with their 2010 release The Upsides. Not only did it garner critical acclaim due to the honesty of singer Dan “Soupy’ Campbell’s lyrics as well as the in-your-face yet still catchy music that backed up Campbell’s intense vocal delivery, but more importantly, it opened up the Philly boys to a whole new set of fans who were won over by the uplifting message that The Upsides provided. This overwhelming praise made for a crazy 2010 for the band (I.E Label switch, break-ups, friend’s death, never being home). The result of the year is Suburbia, I’ve Given You All, and Now I’m Nothing, which can best be described as the anti-thesis of the Upsides. Suburbiais a concept record which covers Campbell and Co.’s emotional roller coaster of a year. Not to say that Suburbia is depressing and full of despair, instead, the boys have pushed themselves musically, lyrically, emotionally and every other aspect that makes this band the pop-punk favorites that they’ve become.
The perfect representation of Suburbia would be its opening track “Came out Swinging”, which is highly emotional, loud, intense and introspective. It reminds the listener that though a bit faster and a little bit sadder, this is The Wonder Years they remember. The song leads in with a guitar and drum intro while a recording in the background states, “My mind is made up, there is going to be trouble” which could not be any more true. Campbell soon explodes with the opening line, “Moved all my shit into my parent’s basement and out of our old apartment”. Relatable and honest, nothing less can be expected. The song also has the catchiest chorus the bad has ever written, “I spent this year as a ghost and I’m not sure what I’m looking for/ I’m the voice on a phone that you hardly answer anymore/ I came in here alone/ but that doesn’t scare me as much as it did 7 months ago/ I’ve spent this years as a ghost/ and I’m not sure where home is anymore”. It is 4 minutes of intense emotional overload. A trend that flows throughout the record
Lyrically, Campbell is at the top of his game. He’s metaphoric (“Woke Up Older”), Introspective ( “Local Man Ruins Everything”), more aware of his surroundings (“I Won’t Say The Lord’s Prayer”) and sometimes all three all at once (“Hoodie Weather”). It has to be stated that Suburbia is MUCH sadder than The Upsides, yet still has the same Bright side mindset that was so prominent in the Upsides and previous TWY releases. Furthermore, it can be argued that Suburbia is more personal than any other release by the band so far. For example, while The Upsides was for the most part about a group of friends in a band getting through rough times told through the voice of Campbell, Suburbiais a deep insightful look into the mind and heart of Campbell. For example, the three song combo of “Suburbia”, “I’ve Given You All” and “And Now I’m Nothing” puts the listener into Campbell’s head and discovers his definition (or lack thereof) of home. Amongst the 13 songs and their 40 minute run-time you seem to grow closer to Campbell as he details his personal struggles while still remaining relatable enough to connect with fans.
Musically, the boys are all over the place. “You Made Me Want to be a Saint” is a minute and half of non-stop fast paced pop-punk, while “Summers in PA” is the poppiest track of the last two records (Minus the overtly poppy “Hey Thanks” from The Upsides). The surprising part is how TWY cover the spectrum of pop-punk. “I Won’t Say the Lord’s Prayer” is reminiscent of a slightly noisier Transit, while “My Life as a Pigeon” has the intensity of early New Found Glory. No song shows the development of TWY both musically and lyrically more than “Hoodie Weather”. It’s a testament that with the right mix of maturity and consistency Pop-Punk can grow and mean something more than girl problems and summers.
Though I’ve obviously praised the hell out of this album, there is something it lacks. Suburbia can best be compared to Taking Back Sundays’ Where You Want to Be, an amazing jaw-dropping fantastic record…but it’s no Tell All Your Friends. The Upsides is one of those records where you can remember where you were and how you felt the first time you heard it. Suburbia is a fantastic record (quite possibly Album of the Year material) but it lacks the same emotional attachment that many have with The Upsides. Sadly, it’s a victim of being a follow up to career-defining record. This unfortunate characteristic shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment of the record. It’s honest, real, emotional and raw…everything you’d want in a pop-punk record and so much more.
Key Tracks: “My Life as a Pigeon”, “Don’t Let Me Cave In”, “Hoodie Weather”, “Came Out Swinging”
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