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ATP! Album Review: The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation

The Wonder Years is more than your average band - they are six young men with an incomparable passion for what they do. They pour more and more of themselves into each album they release. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the "sweat and pain, and frustration and arguing" that occurred in that room above the abandoned sandwich shop where the Philly pop-punk outfit recorded their latest record, The Greatest Generation, in Summer 2012.

The album is, to quote vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell, “the third piece in a trilogy about growing up.” It is entirely possibly for some of those who have been with The Wonder Years since the beginning, but particularly when the trilogy began with The Upsides (2010), to be a bit skeptical about whether or not the band can continue their winning streak of killer hooks, blood-pressure-spiking riffs, and heart-wrenchingly honest lyrics with The Greatest Generation. And let’s be real: all of us in life have been let down by people we trust and love, mostly because we set unrealistically high expectations for them and we get crushed when those expectations are smothered. We can psychoanalyze each other another time; regardless, any fan of The Wonder Years - whether it’s since their inception or when the band released their latest single from this record- has nothing to worry about.

The Wonder Years are known for having a strong, dedicated following of supporters, mostly because the band’s personal and emotional imprint on the lyrical and instrumental parts of each of their songs touches the lives of the musicians as well as their fans in ways only familiar with TWY. The Greatest Generation is an album -not just thirteen songs compiled together in a way that makes them flow freely with one another. It is the final chapter in a book of maturity, of overcoming anxiety and depression, and learning that it is okay for life to suck sometimes. But music alleviates all of that, and The Greatest Generation is the best soundtrack for someone to have this epiphany to.

The band continues their unparalleled techniques with lyrical unity from record’s past with The Greatest Generation (“Came out swinging,” “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times,” “Two blackbirds on a highway sign/Are laughing at me at four in the morning,” and numerous parts of ‘I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral’). And as always, Soupy welcomes listeners into the depths of his mind with deeply personal tracks -even more personal than what is typical for the singer (‘The Devil in My Bloodstream,’ ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’). It wouldn’t be a TWY album without those irresistible tracks that will have you abusing the ‘repeat’ button on your car stereo (‘There, There,’ ‘We Could Die Like This,’ ‘Madelyn’), or without the crunching guitars and unearthly fast tempos (see the album trailer for exact numbers). The album closer, ‘I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral’ will make you reevaluate your prior and future musical selections and life choices -it’s that good.

To give this record the proper, intricately detailed review it deserves would require a few hundred listens. Each time one listens to a TWY song one finds something new to analyze, cherish, and appreciate. This impression is no different with this record. To truly understand what The Greatest Generation is all about, you have to experience it. You have to listen to it once - from ‘There, There’ to ‘I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral’ in complete silence, then repeat about five more times. Then when you’re late for work or procrastinated that American History paper four hours too long, you’ll understand why there’s not much else I can say. The Greatest Generation is a groundbreaking album that accomplishes what it intended to do, and more.


Melissa Jones

The Greatest Generation is out now via Hopeless Records.

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