I have a strange relationship with pop-punk. It played a big part in my early musical education, but in recent years I’ve viewed it as a stale doughnut of a genre. I’ll probably have a nibble, just out of interest, but ultimately I’m going to put it down and go and get something a little bit tastier. Every now and then though band comes along that reminds me just why I spent so many hours listening to this stuff.
The latest addition to that elite group is The Wonder Years, a young pop punk band from Philadelphia. Of course when I say a young pop punk band, what I really mean is that I’ve never given them the time of day before. No Closer to Heaven is in fact their fifth album. Something which shines through in their music. This feels like pop punk for grown-ups and in that statement I’ve summed up why this is so much better than all the other stuff out there.
Because if I had to pinpoint a reason for me moving away from pop punk, it’s because at some point in the last five years it just stopped being relevant to me. The lyrics stopped meaning something and in fact, some of them were just downright stupid. The Wonder Years aren’t like that though. Much like The Gaslight Anthem and Deaf Havana, these are lyrics about growing up, falling in love and fucking up and at no point do they resort to laughing at tits.
Even when the lyrics are sub-par, it doesn’t really matter. Because in Dan Campbell The Wonder Years have a singer who could sing the fucking bible and make it sound fresh and relevant. ‘Stained Glass Ceiling’ is the vocal performance of the year and he sounds like a man whose heart is breaking as he puts his all into every word.
These songs are just good, I mentioned Creeper yesterday and pointed to their ability to write simple music that works. The Wonder Years have that exact same talent. The emotion that flows through tracks like ‘A Song for Patsy Cline’ and ‘The Bluest Things on Earth’ elevates simple songs to heady heights. They’re tracks that make you want to wander out the house, hit the road and just do something.
I fell a little bit in love with The Wonder Years today and while I could go on and analyse every song on the album, I’m not going to. Because sometimes music just needs to be enjoyed and this is a band that are designed for exactly that. Whether you like pop punk or not, I recommend you give this album a chance. Sit back and enjoy good music and try not to fall in love too.