Coming from nowhere and sparking like a flip lighter to breach through the norm is a feat not many bands succeed at. There has been the odd diamond in the rough, though; acts who have truly blessed us with stellar songs. And then there’s been a long line of imitations striving for the same accolades and positions. American band The Wonder Years are an act bright and wisdom fuelled, an outfit who have monumentally grown through the years into such a powerhouse without leaving their roots to decay.
This meteoric rise has stemmed from heartbreak and vigour, and it has come from emotion and drive. Plenty of hardships have occurred, whilst numerous mistakes also embedded into the fabric One thing, though, is for sure – The Wonder Years are one of a kind. Their music speaks to many, through lyrics that naturally bloom like flowers. Frontman Dan Campbell sings about personal wars throughout his band’s discography of six records. Since their inception, The Wonder Years have propelled and their distinctive pop-punk sound has been tweaked but not overworked or changed. This is what makes them original and highly regarded. From the onset, they’ve quietly elevated beyond any other pop punk band, escaping the clutches of cliches and hyperbole.
Debut record Get Stoked On It was released in 2007. It’s an album of rawness, filled with punchy tracks, which didn’t hit the sky like fireworks so much as showcasing what the band was going for. Their optimism is finely tuned on Get Stoked On It, but that all shattered when the band’s seminal record The Greatest Generation hit shelves in 2013. Before that, The Wonder Years weren’t as serious as they are now, and on The Greatest Generation Campbell broke down and showed his war wounds and scars. That record is a masterstroke of urgency and credibility, a tracklist flawless in its delivery. From the beginning, the opus flies from one sombre note to the other, creating tears and awe inspiring intensity. Pop-punk music doesn’t always deliver lyrical quality or stories, but on The Greatest Generation there’s a whole fable to dissect.
By pushing the limits of pop punk, The Wonder Years deserve to be kings of a genre which has been tarnished slightly over the years. Many scorn the formula and foundation of pop-punk, saying that it’s too safe and lacks momentum or quality control. But on the evidence of bands such as The Wonder Years and Boston Manor, there is hope. Earlier this month, The Wonder Years released a record of great magnitude in the form of Sister Cities. It is a narrative masterpiece, with Campbell taking us on a crusade through his musings and pain. He has pushed himself as a person as well as a musician, and all of the band members have cut away the excess and sinew in order to embrace sheer emotion.
Sister Cities even overpowers The Greatest Generation in terms of scope and magnitude. Lyrically, it is poetic and sincere, with songs like Raining In Kyoto and We Look Like Lightning proving to be heart-pullers. All of these songs enchant and inspire, and they’re moments of clarity from a mind battered by loss and affliction. Gaining followers is what makes or breaks a band, but The Wonder Years garnered their flock early on. Their shows are crammed full of runaways and punks, people who utilize their time amidst pop punk royalty. The songs are wonderful, but it’s the compassion that is fundamental, and a band of incredible musicians who know where they come from and where the best moments are made. Emotion and drive are key, and The Wonder Years have grown into a band many respect. Their sounds and grace are unparalleled. They’re a band of pop-punk warriors, rallying a cause and embracing a wind of change.
The Wonder Years’ brand new studio album Sister Cities is out now. Listen to the title track below.