Sound — 9
Recently lurking the myspace of my favorite local band's guitarist, among other things, I saw the song "You're Not Salinger. Get Over It." on his playlist. Intrigued by the speed and melody, I ended up buying everything that The Wonder Years have released later that day. I could carry on with why everything they've done is good, but today I'm focusing on their most recent EP, Won't Be Pathetic Forever. Musically, this EP is a winner for any fan of pop punk or generally fun music. The EP begins with a one minute intro track starting with poppy keys, ringing open power chords and a steady tom beat, which then transitions into a "two-step" beat. After a quote from Ralph Wiggam, the second track, "Solo & Chewy: Holdin' It Down" pushes on. The song remains generally fast, with well sung vocals, one guitar usually playing a lead and the other a power chord rythm and keyboards covering upbeat background melodies. They all come together though for a interesting and slower chorus riff. The third and title track, "Won't Be Pathetic Forever", slows it down a little, starting with a more mellow drum beat based on the toms, with a subtle bass line and casual vocals. Ringing power chords are added until it all builds to the chorus, which in standard The Wonder Years has keyboards and upbeat chord progressions accompanied with lead vocals contrasting with gang chants. This repeats and leads into a "wall of sudden" bridge, with steady chords and drumming giving it a heavy and thick sound. This then goes back into another verse, my favorite portion of the album, because it just has a very happy and fun sound. The final track, "You're Not Salinger. Get Over It." hits hard, very fast all the way through in similar fashion to previous tracks, but hits the bridge, slowing down a lot. Gang vocals then carry on for about a minute, and you can imagine yourself having fun at one of their shows with twenty dudes up front singing along at this portion. It then hits back in to the chorus, which continues as fast as before but then slows at the end, giving a kind of dreary feel to the end of the EP, contradicting the fun going on through the rest of it.
Lyrics — 7
The intro track, "Mike Kennedy Is A Bad Friend", starts with vocalist Soupy saying "Yo, head above water this year boys". This sets the town for the third and fourth tracks, which lyrically focus on the fact that the band has a "pathetic" life style, playing shows over the US and UK for fans, then returning to their hometown in PA and working at Walmart to pay the bills. "Won't Be Pathetic Forever" begins describing a boring life, talking of how Soupy wakes up at three then goes to work, and chills with friends or goes to a party, sometimes riding his bike if weather permits. The "wall of sound" bridge I mentioned earlier repeats two lines, "I f--king love this town. I f--king hate this town.", over and over, showing how they are back on forth, liking the fact that it's their home and their friends and life is there, but it really holds nothing for their careers. The outro verse ponders getting a career and changing something in the world; not being "pathetic" forever. The fourth track (You're Not Salinger. Get Over It.) is similar lyrically, but more so focusing on just making it through the year. The bridge gang vocals repeat "Chin up, and we'll drown a little slower." ending the album on the concept of the first line, keeping a positive look to "drown slower", or carry on longer. The band carries this bleak out look with them, callign themselves "Realist pop punk". "Solo & Chewy: Holdin' It Down" is lyrically a departure, using Han Solo, Chewbaca and the Millenium Falcon as a metaphor for having fun while touring.
Overall Impression — 9
Normally, I would share the prime cuts from an album in this section, but I can't, seeing as it only has four tracks. The Wonder Years sound similar to their pop punk contemporaries like Me Vs. Hero, I Call Fives and Weekend FM, but to me just have a little bit more to their sound, coming from their speed, keyboard melodies, variety within their sound and the gang vocals that make you wish you were at one of their shows jumping around and singing along. Today, if you asked most people what pop punk is they would probably tell you All Time Low or something similar. These people need to look into The Wonder Years and other obscure pop puunk bands, who write songs about realy things and really love crossing the US playing infront of thirty kids a night and sleeping in a van. If you like pop punk, but this immediately. If not, still give it a try. Refresh your ears from the seemingly dead pop punk scene.