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There are many bands, many albums, and many songs that can define a generation, or a subset of a generation, and yet they all seem to have reached transcendence and have the ability to stay relevant, even in the harsh gaze of age. So, what if there was a band, which was not the most popular in the world, nor were they mainstream by any means, but they had the well-intentioned support of a fierce and enlightened community? Could they take over the world?
Take The Wonder Years from Philadelphia. Their latest album, The Greatest Generation, which came out about a year ago, might be the greatest pop-punk album in the post-2010 pop-punk revolution.
Over the last few years they, along with their blood-and-sweat-on-the-sleeves mentality, have been a northern star for the otherwise mostly derivative pop-punk community.
There is nothing to compare this album to, as there is nothing within arm’s length of it. This album, more than ever, speaks to the fast, the angry, and the unforgiving part of the human subconscious.
It does still have the fast guitar riffs and the unrelenting yells, the emotion bleeding through the gaps in the songs. It takes on everything from the subliminal conditions of the Cold War era, to family sickness, to stress Trauma, to the nature of conformity and even touches on American exceptionalism.
Yet, you’d expect this from The Wonder Years, right? A bunch of power-chord obsessed kids stemming from the fabulous, and unpredictable, Allen Ginsberg-themed second LP effort in Suburbia, I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing . You’d expect that they would strike a valiant, torturous chord in the minds of the youth, but this album is even more than that. It’s more than just the sum of all of its parts and it's more than just the sum of the band itself. It feels as if this album, by itself, has been able to repossess every inch of teenage angst over the past 60 years and throw it back up into arrangements, lining it up half-hazardly, and yet purposefully, to hear.
The album does not kick off fast, but begins contemplatively, with the track "There, There" which discusses the inability to process social cues and inner eccentricity. It quickly picks up and forgets to look back with the song of the year, and the best song of the album, in "Passing Through A Screen Door," which is sure to bring more than a few tears.
Amidst the other golden tracks on the album, like "Cul-De-Sac," "The Devil In My Bloodstream," and "The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves," there is no true theme more prevalent than the idea of personal reflection.
For instance, the best line in "The Devil in The Bloodstream," where the lead singer, Dan "Soupy" Campbell, yells about the idea of joining a war, "I'd bet I'd be a F*cking Coward/I bet I'd never have the guts for war...I wanna be strong/ but it's not easy anymore," humbly juxtaposing his own personal rebellion with true, violent rebellion.
If it seems like I’m lacking on specifics, it’s because I don’t have them. I can’t explain the tears, the happiness, and the courage that I, and others, gain from this album-it’s impossible to dictate because there is nothing to compare it to.
It is in my humblest and most appreciative opinion that The Wonder Years could take over the world.