Review Summary: I get it
I didn’t get it.
People cloaked the Wonder Years in hype. The best pop punk since the early 2000s, they claimed.
I didn’t get it.
Somber didn’t do it for me, then. I wanted lightning strikes and anger, burning like skin on a grill. I lived for immature verses and catchy choruses. It needed accessibility, sarcasm, punch. It bordered on superficial connection. Nothing tender—anything but.
So, I didn’t get it at all. Frankly, the album art was one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. The praise seemed exaggerated. Pretentious, too, with lines like, “I ran the dishwasher this morning. I wanted there to be clean plates for you tonight." Hell, I didn’t want to do my own dishes. Only sanitary, tidy hipsters do the dishes. Or so I thought.
After the first shot I gave the band in 2017, I kept only A Song for Ernest Hemingway
. My first reactions to my bud were lukewarm; something like “bouncy, I guess” and “cool concept.”
I kind of got it. Not really
Cue October, bordering on a midwestern winter: Soulful humming gives me the shivers, despite being locked in my room, under two blankets and strung out in my bed. “The sky goes from concrete to charcoal,” Campbell somberly begins. The screaming angst of December plays out of my speakers and shocks me. I lose my place in my book. He finishes with the line, “I didn’t die for nothing.” The silence makes me uncomfortable. I set the track up next and read the lyrics. Hemingway’s experience, reading his own death in a newspaper, makes me unclench my jaw. “I still get phantom pains,” he says in the voice of Hemingway. Me too, dude, me too. Set it on single track repeat. The drums clap along. The guitars slide while Campbell shouts. Repeat. I get it. Repeat. I wonder if this is what other people felt, too, when recommending the Wonder Years. Repeat.
I get it.
A few days pass, and I have the void. The feeling where a song wears out, just a little, but I want to feel the same things again. I scan the track list. A Song for Patsy Cline
seemed like a sister track. The song rolls out with scratches of the guitar and pats of the drums. Boiling coffee at the back of my throat, my skin covered in goosebumps, a nasty chill settled in my arms. It felt like one of those awful chills that traps me while I drove to school, the car heating barely kicking in ten minutes into the drive.
And I get
it. The album poured into me, track by track, image by image: the self-deprecation of Cardinals
, the sorrow of the Bluest Things on Earth
, the calm veneer obfuscating the pissed attitude of lost romantic potential in Thanks for the Ride
, and the utter hopelessness of No Closer to Heaven
Most of all, I came to appreciate You in January
, the song that I couldn’t fathom liking before. “I've grown used to your perfume,” he says after the aforementioned cleaned plates. It left me blinking back tears, for what I wanted, for the person I assigned the pronoun.
I hear the album totally different than then. It reminds me of who I was and how much better I am. I don’t believe in Heaven, not in the least, but if it exists, I’m certainly closer today. Campbell’s description goes, “I may never reach the gates. I’ll keep walking anyway.” I get it. I know I’ll listen to this album at 29. Maybe, I’ll get it less than now. But I get it now. That’s worth something.