The Wonder Years
The Hum Goes on Forever


3.9
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
September 20th, 2022 | 286 replies


Release Date: 09/23/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Head above water.

The Upsides through The Greatest Generation is commonly known as The Wonder Years' Depression Trilogy. It was an odyssey that took us from snotty, reference-heavy pop-punk to a mature and thoughtful band trying to process the weight of the world via the geographical and emotional landmarks Dan Campbell dotted throughout his lyrics, his voice ageing in realtime alongside his songwriting from a nasally whine to a more textured, dynamic force. It's not a stretch to view the subsequent three albums as another linked cycle: it's an interpretation suggested by the title The Hum Goes on Forever, stemming from a poem included in the Sister Cities booklet, and the presence thereon of a sequel song to No Closer to Heaven's "Cardinals". Call it the Head Above Water Trilogy: for as dark as Dan Campbell's writing can still be, I can't escape the impression that he's finally clawing towards the light instead of away from it. Much like the fictional-yet-painfully-real Aaron West character he created, Campbell has found something worth fighting for in the form of family: specifically his children, to whom he dedicates the album and names as the reason he doesn't want the world to end.

That's not to say the journey there isn't replete with those painful moments The Wonder Years have made their bread and better since Suburbia... became a watershed moment in their discography. The touching "Wyatt's Song (Your Name)" connects the album's main throughline back to one of the most haunting lines from The Greatest Generation, a moment that will hit like a truck for those longtime fans who've found themselves deeply invested in this story. "Cardinals II" soars even higher with a bridge that ranks among their finest work, as Campbell pushes his voice further than it's ever gone for a moment that might make your heart stop for a second. And the unexpectedly heavy "Songs About Death" sees Campbell cast a critical eye back over the type of lyricist he's become known for - "been writing songs about death too long, I need to stop" - in a self-aware gutpunch that might hint at where the band could go on a following trilogy, should we be lucky enough to hear one.

Moment to moment, The Hum Goes on Forever features some of The Wonder Years' best and most well-rounded songwriting, but the album as a whole bears the unfortunate scars of an EP-expanded-to-LP project. Production duties are evenly split between the ever-dependable Steve Evetts, boardsmith behind Suburbia... and The Greatest Generation, and the ever-unreliable Will Yip, behind some of the best and worst production jobs of the last 10 years. The album's sonic landscape is surprisingly cohesive in spite of this, and blessedly competent compared with Sister Cities' butchered mix, but there's an unfortunate disconnect in the songwriting which starts to show some cracks. The idea seems to have been to just alternate between a classic pop-punk rager and a stranger cut every song; a model which works up to a point then gets really old about when the lethargic keyboard experiment "Laura & the Beehive" completely saps the momentum out from "Low Tide"'s barnburner ending. It's also hard not to feel like The Wonder Years could write some of these more straightforward songs in their sleep: clear-cut Suburbia... throwbacks "The Paris of Nowhere" and "Old Friends Like Lost Teeth" have enough energy to tread familiar ground successfully, but you can't say the same about the ironically self-doubting "Lost in the Lights", and the glossy mix is enough to make you occasionally yearn for the rougher edges and imperfect takes of that young band fronted by a dude we called Soupy for some reason.

"Even when it's not constantly in my face, there's always a low hum of sadness, a low rumbling of ennui", Campbell says by way of explaining the album title. "So The Hum Goes on Forever is the understanding that I'm always going to have it, it's always going to be there, it's always been there for literal generations of my family and it's important that I accept that and live and work through it." Maybe that's the best summation of this album as a whole, the sound of a man confronting the devils in his bloodstream. It may be flawed and an uneven listen, but The Hum Goes on Forever is another gripping entry in The Wonder Years' canon in spite of that - perhaps another defining moment, where they finally keep their heads above water long enough to see the sunrise.



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user ratings (176)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2022


47041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

this should be a civil and totally reasonable thread



out friday.

Slex
September 20th 2022


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You talked this album up so dang much just to give it a 3.9? Hm



That aside, great review and I'm excited to listen to this a trillion times on Friday

mynameischan
Emeritus
September 20th 2022


2221 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I expected a higher rating too. Still, great review and I’m very excited for this

Pikazilla
September 20th 2022


24580 Comments


one of the worst bands of all time strikes back again

can't wait to listen to this

nash1311
September 20th 2022


5238 Comments


[2]

Knew this would be a Rowan review too lol

Feather
September 20th 2022


8819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

They put on a hell of a performance at Riot Fest (as they always do though). Really excited to get to hear this whole thing. Pretty sure TWY is the band I have seen the most. Probably close around 15 times if you include the solo/aaron west stuff.

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2022


47041 Comments

Album Rating: 3.9

yea prolly shouldnt have said this was their best right off the bat lol. i was hype, whaddayagonnado



its still a common twy W

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
September 20th 2022


17489 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Only heard Oldest Daughter but it still has me so hyped for this

mynameischan
Emeritus
September 20th 2022


2221 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It’s no use taking the bait lol

Spec
September 20th 2022


36562 Comments


HYPE

JayEnder
September 20th 2022


16281 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is gonna rule. Already sounds more promising than Sister Cities

Project
September 20th 2022


5574 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I have adored the singles so much I cannot imagine this being less than a 4



even if Row writes a beautiful 3.9 review

grandfather
September 20th 2022


197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"Production duties are evenly split between the ever-dependable Steve Evetts, boardsmith behind Suburbia... and The Greatest Generation, and the ever-unreliable Will Yip, behind some of the best and worst production jobs of the last 10 years."



lol truuuuuuuuuuuu. Singles are a big step up from just about everything on Sister Cities and the production def sounds leagues better. Cautiously optimistic.

Cormano
September 20th 2022


3755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

immensily hyped for this one

Feather
September 20th 2022


8819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Heard Sister Cities (the title track) live the other day and was blown away by how awesome it was. I think the production really may have hurt their last album. All the tracks I have heard off of it live sound huge.

Sowing
Moderator
September 20th 2022


42639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sister Cities is the only TWY I've been able to get into. I think it's great and it's always surprised me that fans of the band view it as one of their weaker efforts.

Feather
September 20th 2022


8819 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think SS was on pare with everything they’ve released aside from the upsides which is a bit below all their other albums (assuming everyone ignores get stoked for obvious reasons).



I too am surprised fans didn’t like sister cities more. I just think it could have been better with slightly adjusted production

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 20th 2022


7627 Comments


Sister Cities is the only TWY I can’t stand. May cheque this but the review makes me thinks I should stick with their back catalogue. Bloated EP vibes does not sound good for TWY.

LotionLord
September 20th 2022


125 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never been a fan of this band but the singles I've heard (Wyatt's Song, Summer Clothes) have been baller so this might be the album that does it for me.



EDIT: This was not the album that did it for me.

g40st
September 21st 2022


882 Comments


4 years since Sister Cities

God my life is going so fast



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