By The Wonder Years
"I'm not sad anymore, I'm just tired of this place".
Thus opens the second album from Philadelphia pop punk 6-piece The Wonder Years. It is a lyric that anyone who's lived at home for a little too long can relate to, but also one that sums up pop punk over the last few years. With the recent success of You Me At Six, All Time Low and co, the genre has fallen into blandness. It's something that has been coming for a while, and something that the old guard who grew up with Blink-182 and New Found Glory are well over.
The band's 2007 debut, 'Get Stoked On It!,' was a raucous half hour of guitars, keyboards and shouting, a record proving that somewhere, someone still understands the principal of simply rocking out. 'The Upsides' is an all together more collected and composed effort. It's more mature, more serious, more heart-on-sleeve and is, put simply, outstanding.
The album itself is comprised of tracks that come from various angles, all around the central theme of escaping, running away, and growing up. There are the simple tour stories of 'New Years With Carl Weathers' and 'Hostels & Brothels,' the necessary stories of love and friends in 'Melrose Diner' and 'Washington Square Park' and others, and the genuinely witty social criticisms of the American college bar scene in 'This Party Sucks' and 'My Last Semester.'
That's all well and good, but it's not an easy thing to explain why this album is quite as good at it is. It's full of wonderfully quotable lyrics, brilliantly catchy riffs and plenty of emotion, but that's not the best bit. The key is that here is a band that understands, 100%, what their music is about. It's about writing lyrics and music that people can scream their hearts out to, that are wonderfully personal but easy to relate to.
With the bonus tracks, this deluxe edition is over 50 minutes long, but it doesn't reduce the quality. Whilst the "campfire edition" of 'Dynamite Shovel' would hardly be missed if it weren't there, the other 3 are as essential as the original 12 tracks. Especially the gorgeous reworking of 'Logan Circle,' which comes complete with a Star Wars reference.
With 'The Upsides,' The Wonder Years have created the anthem of the young for the new generation, but it is also so relevant for those who grew up spending their days in their friend's bedroom with Enema Of The State blasting and the lyric book in their hands. It is scarily personal yet so easy to relate to. Everyone can relate to the line "I'm not as sad as I let myself believe sometimes". It makes you want to get out and do something, escape the life you've settled for. The whole world's full of losers, if you get the chance to win, take it.