The Wonder Years
The Greatest Generation


4.5
superb

Review

by Point1 USER (13 Reviews)
May 12th, 2013 | 381 replies


Release Date: 05/14/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ten years out of high school, the world's changed but the music's stayed the same.

Can pop-punk really grow up? Almost all the best albums of the genre capture what it is to be a teenager, either reveling in the carefree simplicity of life and energetically expressing the angsty underbelly of it like Green Day or Blink-182, or else treating the mundane turmoil of life like heavy drama like Yellowcard or Jimmy Eat World. To a generation to whom the genre was personally addressed, the classics are close to the hearts of many of us, and alien to the rest. That was 2004. Now it's 2013, and the only pop-punk to be seen is scene pop like All Time Low. The carefree and simple bands mostly turned into alt-rock radio acts. The "serious", Myspace-quoteworthy bands mostly kept at it, developing their craft without really maturing in any tangible way. Meanwhile, the people who spent their summers with Tell All Your Friends and Leaving Through the Window struggle to explain their appeal to the people who didn't.

The Greatest Generation bucks both of these trends. The sound is instantly familiar "hard" pop-punk, but the message is specifically aimed at the same people who were hit by the genre in the first place: the people who were 16 in 2003 and listened to Your Favorite Weapon or Ocean Avenue to dull the pain of ugly relationships or unpopularity. The people who are now, statistically, struggling to put their lives together. This might be the Greatest Generation, but we've had no chance to prove it. A lot of people share singer Soupy Campbells situation, stuck surrounded by people who have found success, forced to deal with the fact that their cousins have kids instead of laying on their parent's couch smelling like beer and sadness. The use of historical imagery, specifically the generation recognized in the title, amplifies the theme of squandered youth; contrast the generation that won the war and rebuilt the nation economically with the one that bickers on Youtube and puts Canadian flags on their backpacks while traveling abroad.

The lyrics are typically great, with the combination of concise expression and strong imagery we've come to expect from Campbell. However, The Greatest Generation succeeds strongest in combining detailed, serious realism with the kind of tense nostalgia that fans want from pop-punk. For example, the track "Dismantling Summer" describes a hospital-bound girlfriend's illness in a contrasting tone of evocative metaphors, honest confessions, and a familiar trope re-purposed: "I haven't felt a heartbreak until now". The theme of this album is reflected in matching the music and sentiments of youth ("my heart's been broken", "my life's going nowhere") with real, matured, validations of those untimely, overblown claims. Not getting invited to a party or having the girl you like date your friend might have been crises when you were a teenager, but the step up to adulthood introduces many, more serious problems, and the deceptively genius move of swapping in the old problems for the new ones does the album a lot of favours thematically. There are still a number of buzzwords from that old music that pop up in newly mature contexts. "Summer" is no longer a time for careless fun and romance, but a spark of hope and a time for nostalgia. "Heartbreak" isn't the sting of rejection, it's the pain of indifference or distance. "***" doesn't defy anyone anymore, it's just an expression of frustration. This is meant to be a cohesive, almost-but-not-quite conceptual, and far-reaching album. For a pop-punk album, this is ambitious stuff, and I don't mean ambitious in the American Idiot sense.

Musically, The Greatest Generation lives up to its heavy subject matter. The Wonder Years deliver pitch-perfect pop-punk, and even without the thematic and lyrical excellence of the album it would still be one of the finest works of the genre in the past few years. The most important quality of this album is its consistency. A lot of Suburbia was excellent, but weighed down by too much mediocre material. Not so here; every track is airtight, catchy, and exemplifies all of the best qualities of the genre. The drumming especially is top-notch, especially on the closing track, and the guitars and bass are heavy when they have to be. Campbell's voice sounds much better here than in the past, generally avoiding the whineyness that came up too much in his earlier work. There's a major theme of anthemic tracks on this album, giving each song appropriate emotional weight to match the lyrics. The music's drivingly serious without overextending itself with too much acoustic guitars or piano, as one might expect.

The final track, and the one that will get the most attention, "I Want to Sell Out My Funeral" is a stunning conclusion to the album. Doing something I've personally never heard before, especially from a pop album, it combines some of the most memorable refrains from the prior tracks and melds them seamlessly with a heartbreaking and somehow inspiring message of realistic resignation balanced with an optimistic underlying message:

"Two blackbirds on a highway sign are laughing at me here with my wings clipped.
I'm staring up at the sky but the bombs keep ***ing falling.
There's no devil on my shoulder; he's got a rocking chair on my front porch but I won't let him in.
No, I won't let him in; 'cause I'm sick of seeing ghosts and I know how it's all gonna end.
There's no triumph waiting; there's no sunset to ride off in.
We all want to be great men and there's nothing romantic about it.
I just want to know that I did all I could with what I was given"

This isn't an album about whining, it's an album about getting the hell over it and realizing that the summer relationships and popularity contests that the old pop-punk often dwelled on might be a nice throw-back, but there are bigger problems out there. And even those bigger problems don't give you any excuse to lay down and give up.

There are going to be people who don't "understand" this album, and I don't mean that in a pretentious or condescending way. The Greatest Generation is crafted for a particular audience, and for that audience it might hit like a sack of bricks. It's not for everyone, and some pop-punk fans may even find it too over-serious. But it's an ambitious album, and it is successful in every way it seeks to be. This is pop-punk, ten years out of high school, and matured to match.



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user ratings (769)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • hahGAY (4.5)
    Celebrate summer with The Wonder Years....

    brandontaylor (4)
    It's a testament to The Wonder Years' abilities that The Greatest Generation can be so gre...

    Mike Denison (4.5)
    The kind of album where "I know how it feels to be at war with the world that never loved ...

    Frasc5 (4.5)
    The Wonder Years puts forth their best performance, noticeably more mature, and much impro...

  • Jacob Snow (4.5)
    Another great release for The Wonder Years that excels lyrically and musically....

    Aaron CONTRIBUTOR (5)
    The greatest generation indeed....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Point1
May 11th 2013


197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Stream at the HopelessRecords Youtube page:

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLKAm0swRNckuxdS0QS-FJc_qrAA35SejT

EDIT: This is longer than I thought it would be, but I guess an album with 126 ratings and a 4.5 average can justify one.

Kman418
May 11th 2013


10724 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

lol

Digging: Teebs - E S T A R A

dimsim3478
May 11th 2013


5165 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Look at that beautiful average...holy shit, I want to cry.

Pos'd.

Digging: Kittyhawk - Hello, Again

loveisamixtape
May 11th 2013


6083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

pretty good review

skoopy48
May 11th 2013


1531 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good review, excellent album but I still think what you don't see was better

Funeralopolis
May 12th 2013


11555 Comments


Review is excellent, perfect description of the lyrics.

Problem is I love this band's lyrics but don't care much at all for their music

Digging: Quicksand - Slip

nononsense
May 12th 2013


3408 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Absolutely fantastic review.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
May 12th 2013


19913 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review I started one myself :3

Digging: Dornenreich - Freiheit

SonofSnow
May 12th 2013


685 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Easily my favorite album they've put out, definite AOTY contender. Great review.

Digging: Childish Gambino - STN MTN/ Kauai

FearThyEvil
May 12th 2013


12618 Comments


4.5 avg really? This site dick rides this band to no end.

BroFro
May 12th 2013


405 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

damn

EDIT: also, what andcas said

Digging: Transit - Joyride

SonofSnow
May 12th 2013


685 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Jesus Christ, I'm 26, all the people I've graduated with. All have kids, all have wives, all have people who care if they come home at night. Well Jesus Christ, did I fuck up?"

Lyrics hit pretty hard, pretty relatable no matter the age. I feel like at some point or another we feel that we are lagging behind everyone else.

dimsim3478
May 12th 2013


5165 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

4.5 avg really? This site dick rides this band to no end.

Nah, I think this is a rare instance where all the lesser known users come out and 5 this while staff or more prominent users don't even care enough to listen to it.

FearThyEvil
May 12th 2013


12618 Comments


They're not bad by any means but the avg rating for this is way too high.

FearThyEvil
May 12th 2013


12618 Comments


Idk, probably because I see other albums from this year deserving of this praise. Although, I know the 4.5 won't stay.

J0ckstrapsFTW
May 12th 2013


3652 Comments


Wow one of the best reviews I've read in a while posd. Def checking this out I loves their last album. Dat avg rating GODDAM

Treeman
May 12th 2013


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

great review man

and yeah sputnik loves this band but its not too often that a pop punk album has a 4.5 rating. I have feeling its actually worthy of all this praise

J0ckstrapsFTW
May 12th 2013


3652 Comments


Lol at ur avatar treebro that's some funny shit

Treeman
May 12th 2013


1223 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks thats my dad

Krossceeper
May 12th 2013


83 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Review was really solid, it reads as more of a 5 to me (and I see the album as a 5) but apart from that you capture everything there is to love about the album.

Have a Pos!



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