Mon. Jul 4th, 2022

In a world of music where bands such as All Time Low and Metro Station can make it big by writing one catchy chorus, there are musicians who struggle to make ends meet so they can play the music that they love. One of the bands that I’m talking about is the Wonder Years. The Wonder Years are from Philadelphia and they play a brand of their own self-titled “realist pop-punk.”

The band released their second full-length album, “The Upsides,” on January 26 on No Sleep Records. The record is anything but a sophomore slump.

The opening song, “My Last Semester,” starts out with the lines: “I’m not sad anymore/I’m just tired of this place/the weight of the world would be okay/if it would pick a shoulder to lean on/so I could stand up straight,” which sets the concept of the entire album.

The second song entitled “Logan Circle” is a quick paced song about how such a simple thing like a fountain being turned on can make someone’s day.

The song starts out with the line: “They turned on the fountain today at Logan Circle; I felt something in me change.” The next song, “Everything I Own Fits in this Backpack,” is a four-minute track about how tough it is to go through a tour away from home.

The song following that, “Dynamite Shovel,” is a quick one minute song that punches you in the jaw with its quick guitar work and fierce lyrics that insult groups such as Westboro Baptist Church. The next three songs (“New Years with Carl Weathers,” “It’s Never Sunny in South Philadelphia” and “Hostels & Brothels”) keep the pace of the album up while Dan Campbell continues to let the listener in on the details of his life:

“I can’t play video games/cause I always end up depressed/I can’t be left alone now / for even a second/ I’m a burden (but at least I know it).”

Next is a song by the name of “Melrose Diner” with lyrics focusing on a relationship between Campbell and his presumably ex-girlfriend, detailing how even though Campbell pretends that he doesn’t need the girl anymore he actually could use her around.

Later, there is a song by the title of “This Party Sucks” which is a bitter song about feeling awkward in social situations. Once again, the lyrics thrive with one of the more witty choruses on the record:

“Cause you won’t find me/in the North Jersey Club Scene/with the Girls Gone Wild ‘B’ team/I don’t need to pump my fist to look sweet.” This song is followed by a slower acoustic song called “Hey Thanks” which features vocals from Rachel Minton of Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer.

The last two songs are definitely the two most impressive songs on the CD, with the first being “Washington Square Park.” The song starts out with a quick guitar riff and some nice drumming before Campbell belts out the title of the album:

“I’m looking for the upsides/to these panic-attack nights/where I’m staying in/eating take-out food by tv light.”

This song reveals how Campbell felt that no one was on his side and that he was really left on his own, especially on the band’s first nationwide tour. The final song on the album is “All of my Friends are in Bar Bands” which starts with Campbell whispering over some soft guitar work before picking up with piano playing in the background.

The song ends with multiple guest appearances who all utter the same line, the very line that opened up the album: “I’m not sad anymore/I’m just tired of this place” and adds “If this year would just end/I think we’d all be okay.”

A perfect way to end the record. “The Upsides” is possibly the best pop-punk album released this year, and the disc is a breath of fresh air in the genre of pop-punk where a majority of the bands care more about their hair than the actual music.

Give this a chance, and I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Joe Deegan is a first year student majoring in Mathematics and can be reached at joe.deegan77@yahoo.com.

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