Best of 2016 Playlist

September 22, 2015

The Wonder Years - "No Closer to Heaven" Review

Hopeless Records has had a slew of pop punk hits so far this year with All Time Low, Neck Deep, and ROAM. They can add The Wonder Years to that list. Their 5th album was already shaping up to be one of their best yet, then they went and blew minds. Different from their previous releases, but in the best ways possible. TWY take a new tack at pop punk in this album, and score big! Click this (link) to buy the album on iTunes. 

The Wonder Years' previous album, "The Greatest Generation" is one of the essential modern pop punk albums (to be featured on a future Top 10 list). Tearing up the blueprints for the genre, the band spearheaded a new direction. And the band have continued that direction in their new album, while still shaking things up a bit.

The album is set to a different tempo than previous albums, and compared to the likes of fellow pop punk albums it may seem a bit slow. But don't let that turn you off. Because even though the songs take their sweet time, they build up to something incredible. Lead single, "Cardinals", has some of the rawest vocals out there. While not the usual upbeat pop punk track, what it lacks in catchiness, it makes up for in presence. 

If you're looking for that catchy summer track look no further than "I Don't Like Who I Was Then". But unfortunately, there's not much in terms of energy. The songs are well written, and are some of the band's strongest, but there's a lack of "spunk" in the music. Which is why we have to deduct a few points. The tracks can drag their feet a little in gaining momentum, which may bore some listeners, but when they finally do pick up the pace they're nothing short of perfect. 

But if I had to pick out a standout track, it's "Cigarettes & Saints". A slower piece that showcases frontman Dan's abilities as a lyricist. The emotional delivery and concept of conflicting ideals resonates on such a level, you can't help but be moved. The album overall is full of lyrics that were taken straight from Dan's inner thoughts and demons. 

The worst track, if there is one, is "You in January". The song has a nice melody to it, but it doesn't have any of the ever absent "spunk". Nice vocal melodies and guitars can't make up for the slow pace and folk vibe that drag the song down. Different yes, creative yes, an ear worm, not so much. The band is branching out and testing the new waters. Once in a while they're bound to stumble a little. The album's title track is one of the best "experimental" pieces from the band. An acoustic, folk song that does the softer the right way. It doesn't come off as forced, or studio made, rather a raw representation of the band's state of mind. 

Summary -
Where some albums just get commercial success, The Wonder Years get commercial, critical, and fan success. Why they haven't become a bigger name in pop punk, we'll never fully understand. "No Closer to Heaven" is an appropriate title, as this album is about as perfect as they come. A contender for "Album of the Year" for sure, if you haven't heard this release yet you should. Fans of label-mate Neck Deep, Transit, and Real Friends will fall in love with this album. TWY are straying from the typical pop punk sound, and mixing in some indie rock, alt. rock, and folk to give their latest album something unheard of before. Dan has outdone himself, writing some of the best lyrics in his career. Hopefully this new TWY doesn't go anywhere because we're loving their new album.

Favorite Tracks -
"Cigarettes & Saints" for sure. But don't forget "Thanks for the Ride" and the title track. 

Rating -