The Wonder Years
The Upsides


3.0
good

Review

by J. Ponton EMERITUS
January 28th, 2010 | 47 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Happy, angry, driven, and young--yes, welcome to The Wonder Years.

Bands like The Wonder Years play with my head. An ever-present, lyrical obsession with the adolescent angst/problems of the youth today acts as their main vehicle to stage a riot for every pop-punker fan, but somehow, through it all, bands like this Philadelphia wrecking ball can give off vibes of being happy and cheerful despite their hardcore sound--not to forget the backing gang vocals that just seem to shout with an agenda to kill. It’s just so ironic in the way that the mood the band gives off can run so anti-parallel to the drive of the music. Honestly, I kind of wish the lyrics were violent. You know, throw in some blood and some well-implemented vulgarity--of the other variety, mind you--into the mix for a good bit of fun and a better suited atmosphere. I can see it now: death pop-punk--the next hit sub-genre to break into the scene. Wouldn’t that be awesome?

Oh well, it's just a thought.

’I’m not sad anymore / I’m just tired of this place’, begins front man and belter Dan Cambell over clean arpeggios on opener “My Last Semester”. The band kicks it into high gear from here--we knew they would, yes, but it works well--and sophomore album The Upsides is set to run its course. The Wonder Years have found their own little niche in that aforementioned happy/melodic hardcore sound, and suffice it to say, the band make sure to let everyone know this throughout the span of the album’s playing time. Anxious guitars and fever-pace drumbeats seem to contend with the urgency of the singer’s delivery on nearly all of the tracks on this album. In relation to the singer, it should be said that Cambell’s vocals will either be your ticket to, or your passport away from The Wonder Years. He’s got the nasally, yet earnest performance that I’m sure many are familiar with having grown up with the pop-punk boom during the turning point of the millenium. If New Found Glory’s Jordan Pundik is your thing, you will love this guy. If not, then there’s really no reason to bother with this band.

One of my favorite aspects about the happy/melodic hardcore movement is how the hooks of the songs are not as obvious at first when first listened to, nor are they too sugar-coated to the point of inducing vomit; as a result, repeated listens to these albums are usually rewarded with a deep set of sing-a-longs. Fortunately, The Wonder Years are able to instill this same characteristic on The Upsides. Third time through the album you’re bound to be caught by your mom singing along to the infectious backing vocals of “Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack”. Heck, why don’t we just return to those memories of the troublesome women in our past--whom we knew were right all along--in “Melrose Dinner”. Lock the door, soundproof your room, and scream along to, ’I guess I’ll be honest / I could use you around!’. There’s nothing wrong with indulging these desires every now and again, you know? It's not like she can hear you anyway.

Places where the band deviate from the established energetuc, pop-punk formula can be found in the ska-sounding “Hey Thanks”--which is assisted by Rachel Minton & Matt Belanger--and finale “All My Friends Are In A Bar”. Unfortunately, the prior doesn’t exactly succeed at what it sets out to do. The vocals from Rachel are a nice addition, true, but the melody and the short nature of the track disrupts what is now the frantic flow of The Upsides; while the band should be applauded for attempting to switch it up a bit, something less drastic and more in line with their style would have been more suitable for a successful deviation track. The band close off the album by taking the easy way out: the finale just repeats lines from opener “My Last Semester” in an attempt to tie everything together. Sure, it seems a bit lazy and typical on the band’s part, but the emotional song close off The Upsides well enough and gets the job done.

So I guess Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years are set to carry on the trend of the energetic, gang-vocal ruckus that’s become so popular in the last five years. Sophomore album The Upsides does play strong to its influences: an obvious New Found Glory influence creates the foundation for the album; bits of Set Your Goals and A Day To Remember fill in the extra gaps; and The Wonder Years smooth the rough edges with a touch of their own to create the band’s core sound. The Upsides may turn off some with its “I’ve-heard-this-all-before” feel, but there’s actually more hidden under the surface of the album than what’s presented with first spins. Who knows? In time, smirks and annoyed “humphs” might actually become smiles and laughter, and, dare I say, could there possibly be a desire to raise one’s fist in the air? Happy, angry, driven, and young--yes, welcome to The Wonder Years.

Now that that’s over, how about some death pop-punk next time around, guys?



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Comments:Add a Comment 
americanmusicmachine
January 28th 2010


3953 Comments


nice review. death pop punk sounds like it could work. also I'm not a big fan of bands like the wonder years so I'll probably stay away at least 'till summertime anyways.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 28th 2010


5793 Comments


Thanks.

At least it would sound kind of original, I guess. Yes, bands like this and Motion City are a bit unlucky when they have winter release dates.

WatchItExplode
January 28th 2010


3248 Comments


This is pretty good and I like your review, but tbh I'd call this punk

Ponton
Emeritus
January 28th 2010


5793 Comments


Thanks.

It's a close call, but I'd say they fall into the pop-punk/ melodic hardcore/ punk thing like Set Your Goals and New Found Glory.

Romulus
January 28th 2010


8437 Comments


First paragraph is awesome. The amount of new releases you discover/listen to/review never fails to impress.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 28th 2010


5793 Comments


Haha thanks.

Death pop punk--it's coming.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2010


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Did someone say "gang vocals". You may have found another one for me Jared. Man, you're on a roll. How's the social life going?

Nagrarok
January 29th 2010


8247 Comments


First paragraph is awesome. The amount of new releases you discover/listen to/review never fails to impress.


^pretty much what I was going to say. Since you review so fast, I have no time to actually check anything out either.

Ponton
Emeritus
January 29th 2010


5793 Comments


How's the social life going?


Pretty good. It's probably better than one would think.

Since you review so fast, I have no time to actually check anything out either.


In that case, I may need to slow it a bit. If you ever get to anything I cover though, go for the new Four Tet, Motion City, and In Mourning albums. The new Fair album is pretty awesome too.

LMP21
January 31st 2010


6 Comments


This review is from www.lexingtonmusicpress.com
( 4.0 / 5.0 )
This is punk rock in the form it was always meant to be. The Wonder Years play "fuck you" anthems left and right, and don't cave in to the trends the genre has fallen in. The Upsides is about dropping your bullshit and living your life, something we should all take into consideration. If you've never heard the band, imagine a mix of Man Overboard, Blink-182, and New Found Glory. You have your swinging hooks, soaring melodies, gang vocals, and big attitude you can't ignore. Tracks like "Dynamite Shovel", "Logan Circle", and "Melrose Diner" stand out most from the pack, but this album is full of fun and humorous moments. This foul laden release should really be given a chance - it's hard not to crack a smile when hearing The Upsides. Stop being so up tight; enjoy yourself you fucker. (www.nosleeprecords.com)

xColton
February 4th 2010


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, although it seemed to read a little bit higher than what you rated it.

This could very well be a 5 for me. I just wanna give it some more time and see how well it lasts. It's been going pretty strong since December. Who can't relate to this record? Pretty sure this band is gonna blow up this year.

alixsmodernlife
February 7th 2010


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I got goosebumps the first time I heard The Upsides. Soo good.

Transient
February 9th 2010


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

4.1 average rating? what the fuck

average pop punk, listen to say anything and forget this exists

Kiran
Emeritus
February 9th 2010


6001 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

dont like

xColton
February 17th 2010


20 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Transient: Totally disagree that this is "average" pop-punk.

@Kirgasm: Whether you like this album or not, it is completely different from GSOI. No more breakdowns, synth or cutesy lyrical content.

reeshespeeshes
March 17th 2010


64 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of my favorite pop punk albums, still haven't seen them and they play here all the time

Monsterpoptart
March 29th 2010


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I like it because i have the same shirt as the guy on the cover. Only reason I even checked it out...

Digging: Tiny Moving Parts - Pleasant Living

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
April 19th 2010


7026 Comments


This reminds me of early Saves the Day and Fireworks ie. I'm enjoying this

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Twelvetribes230
April 30th 2010


106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really fun CD.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
April 30th 2010


7026 Comments


Yeah some people are taking this too seriously.



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