The Wonder Years
The Upsides


4.0
excellent

Review

by David James Young USER (181 Reviews)
November 26th, 2010 | 31 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: I don't know why I'm here, but I know who my friends are...

It takes a pretty special record to warrant being released twice within the same year. That said, if there's one thing you can say about The Upsides, the second album from Pennsylvanian sextet The Wonder Years, it's that it is quite a special record. A revolt against pop-punk trends, small-town living and young adult pessimism, the album is devastatingly authentic - a no-holds-barred insight into getting through the worst of times. Given, not much has changed between this reissue and the record's January release – a new artwork, liner notes and four new tracks at the end, half of which are different versions of tracks originally on the record. Even so, if you haven't yet been acquainted with this band and what they are about, now is as good a time as ever.

“I'm not sad anymore,” claims lead vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell within the first few seconds of The Upsides. “I'm just tired of this place.” Simple lyrical imagery, yes, but it still manages to speak volumes as the six-piece spit their vitriol left, right and centre in a flurry of triple-guitar attacks, drum flails and screamed lines like “Nobody wants to hear your sappy bullshit.” Barely stopping to take a breath – aside from when Campbell pulls out his ukulele for the cutesy “Hey Thanks” - the band have shifted from their 80s pop synthesizer and gang vocals to revert to a different kind of heaviness; the kind which doesn't immediately strike out, but lands twice as hard upon impact.

Life has evidently been getting Campbell down since the release of 2007's Get Stoked On It! – he lives next door to Juggalos, his girlfriend's left him and he can barely afford to put gas in the tank so his band can tour. The message The Upsides attempts to send, however, is not how much life sucks. You've heard that album – whether it was called Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness or Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, you've definitely heard it already. Rather, The Upsides is an album of perseverance and endurance - “I'm looking for the upsides to these panic attack nights,” rings out one lyric; “It took almost thirteen months for me to be where I feel fine” goes another. It's an album that refuses to give in – to dismiss it as another release of foot-tapping American pop-punk is to completely miss the point.

The new tracks that accompany the reissue – the passionate “I Was Scared and I'm Sorry,” as well as the brief but tender ode to an old friend, “We Won't Bury You” - are worthy additions to the Wonder Years discography. With that said, it's interesting that the main reason The Upsides reissue is a strong investment is a reworking of one of the album's highlights. “Logan Circle” was originally another punchy rocker dialled in at breakneck speed with big guitars and an even bigger chorus – here, it is reworked at a far slower pace, with keyboards replacing the main guitar and the lyrics rewritten, under the name “Logan Circle: A New Hope.” The new lyrics are a reflection on friendship, getting one's life back on track and the immediate community: “We wrote The Upsides in my basement and pissed off all the neighbours/but Jess and I barely slept when they had sex,” he sings with tongue placed firmly within cheek, before adding the final blow: “This street has seen much worse than some fucking pop punk band.”

Indeed, The Wonder Years might present themselves as just “some fucking pop punk band.” Repeated listens to The Upsides, however, is happy to suggest otherwise – these young men are making music with great energy and an endearing, uplifting message. Whenever things are getting rough and feel inescapable, perhaps you, too, can look for The Upsides.



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user ratings (718)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
James Jaskolka (4.5)
Meet the next big thing....

J. Ponton EMERITUS (3)
Happy, angry, driven, and young--yes, welcome to The Wonder Years....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Transient
November 26th 2010


1461 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

goddammit david, now i feel obliged to listen to this again

cvlts
November 26th 2010


8967 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ugh, no.

DustinWindex
November 26th 2010


31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great CD, good example of what pop punk should be.


Edit: Get Stoked On It! came out in '07, but it's not a big deal.

STOP SHOUTING!
November 26th 2010


631 Comments


special record is special.

AtavanHalen
November 26th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Dustin, I'll fix that up asap.

Sup SHOUTING. I figured this review wouldn't have enough ego in it for you - thanks for the neg. One love.

Douglas
November 26th 2010


9118 Comments


yess

STOP SHOUTING!
November 26th 2010


631 Comments


didn't neg it. well-written apart from the 1st two lines.

AtavanHalen
November 26th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

So the neg just happened to turn up around the same time as you? lolz

AtavanHalen
November 26th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Be a creepy old man?

taylormemer
November 26th 2010


4917 Comments


I'm moving this.

pmmets07
November 26th 2010


5900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great album great review. hopefully i'm seeing them play it front to back next month

timbo8
November 26th 2010


618 Comments


had the misfortune of seeing these guys in concert once, they were awful

DustinWindex
November 26th 2010


31 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, saw them open for Streetlight Manifesto over the Summer and it was a ridiculously up-beat and entertaining set.

AtavanHalen
November 26th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm moving this.


?

pmmets07
November 26th 2010


5900 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seeing them open with logan circle was one of the more epic moments of my lifetime

DoubtGin
November 26th 2010


6752 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

nearly every pop punk release from this year I listened to was pretty boring.. might listen to and hope its like The Graduate

edit: nvm, apparently I think this sucks

AtavanHalen
November 27th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well it doesn't so

timbo8
November 27th 2010


618 Comments


I also saw them open for Streetlight. They spent most of the set bragging about how cool they are because they live in Philly...ugghh

timbo8
November 27th 2010


618 Comments


haha

accompliceofmydeath
November 28th 2010


4255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Best pop punk release this year. I've seen 'em three times and I've never heard 'em brag about being from Philly :S

Digging: New Found Glory - Resurrection



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