Sound — 9
The Wonder Years set out to complete their self proclaimed Trilogy with the release of "The Greatest Generation." This Pop Punk band from Philadelphia have released 4 albums (though they publicly denounce their first record), along with several other singles, splits, and EPs. "The Greatest Generation" is full of all the usual tropes that many fans have come to love from The Wonder Years. "The Greatest Generation," complete the trilogy started with their second album "The Upsides," and bridged by "Suburbia I've Given You All." The band called the album the third in a trilogy about growing up and finding our who you are. The lead singer and lyricist for the band Dan "Soupy" Campbell said that the album is about ending the war between himself and depression and anxiety, or at least coming to terms with it. The title is from a term coined by Tom Brokaw, having stated that the men and women from the second World War were the "Greatest Generation". This is reflected in the lyrics in the album at points as well, but more on that later. Recorded above a deli in an abandoned apartment the album has this eerie echo to it at times, especially on the third to last track, an acoustic piece titled "Madelyn." But it also gives power to some of the lyrics especially on the first and second tracks "There, There" and "Passing Through A Screen Door," respectively. The album is full of the emotion from start to finish. The band has always been about a group of misfits trying to come to terms with themselves but not trying to be like everyone else. The album has all of the angst and adrenaline that gets your blood pumping whenever it starts playing. But the album also gets into a slower piano driven moments, such is the case with the song "The Devil in My Bloodstream." From start to finish the album fires on all cylinders and never lets up. A perfect example of what a good pop punk should be.
Lyrics — 9
As stated previously the lead singer of The Wonder Years Dan Campbell wrote his lyrics in an inward sense, he writes for himself and has little nuances that possibly only a select few people, or no one at all would understand. Yet even with this inward type of exposition, the lyrics are able to be interpreted by the listener because there are still these broad ideas and the listener can draw their own experience or life into the song. A prime example of this occurs in the second track on the album "Passing Through a Screen Door." The song itself is about growing up and looking at all of your friends and seeing that they are doing great things in life and are moving on and up in the world. Towards the end of the song Soupy questions his own lifestyle. "Well Jesus Christ//I'm 26//all the people I graduated with//all have kids//all have wives//all have people who care if they come home at night// well Jesus Christ//did I f--k up?..." And any teenager or someone in their early to mid 20s can really draw life experiences from this style of song because it makes them think about their own life. "The Greatest Generation" also has references to war as well. Such as in the chorus of "The Devil in My Bloodstream": "Two blackbirds on a highway sign// their laughing at me at 4 in the morning// they play the war drums out of time// so I'm not sure where I've been marching..." The album is lyrically tied together by the closing track "I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral" which is a cleverly crafted piece that draws parts from the other tracks on the album to make it into a cohesive experience and really does bring the trilogy to a great close. Soupy's style of singing is perfect for the type of sound that The Wonder Years has going for them, a fast energetic pop punk band. Think along the lines of New Found Glory and Bowling For Soup for vocal style.
Overall Impression — 10
"The Greatest Generation" is possibly one of the best pop punk albums I have ever listened to, and definitely a solid album for anyone to try and get into the band. There is no one song on the album that stands out as "The Best" but my top 3 right now would be: "Dismantling Summer," "Teenagers" and "A Raindance in Traffic." And if you are weary of buying the album the band put the whole thing up for streaming on YouTube. I don't think there is a single song I dislike on the album but I do have a habit of skipping over "An American Religion" and "Madelyn" when I'm trying to find good driving music but both songs are still amazing and complete the album, and the last song on the album has a much better feel to it if you listen to the entire album before you dive into the 7 minute track. This album is going to be on my top 10 album list, and will see an almost continuous play on my iPod for a long time to come.