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By Jeremy M. - Posted on 09 October 2010

 

The Wonder Years Review

by

Jeremy Munro

 

 

Talk about a band that exemplifies what it is like to be in college and frustrated with what you find there.

 

I have here an interview with the lead singer of the band by Alter The Press with the singer Daniel “Soupy” Campbell of The Wonder Years. There are some choice quotes I'll use to lead this piece off.

 

ATP: Your new full-length, 'The Upsides', is coming out next month. There's a real story and meaning behind it. Could you tell us about it?


S: 'The Upsides' is just about not living in a world of self-defeating bullshit. My friend Max said it best last night when he said that he stopped listening to hardcore and started listening to hip hop because he'd rather hear songs about how fucking cool someone thinks they are than songs about self-hatred. Every song I listened to for a long time was about being sad and that doesn't make sense because I don't want to be sad. Ideally, I'd like to be a normal, happy, balanced person and while that might not be the easiest task in the world, I want to work towards it anyway. 'The upsides' is all about that goal. Yes, sometimes we're depressed. Yes, sometimes I don't want to get out of bed, but really, I don't have it that bad and I don't want to stay that way forever.” (Alter The Press! Interview)

 

Personally, as someone who listens to a lot of punk rock and hardcore, this just makes too much sense.

 

ATP: A lot of your lyrics are about the ups and downs of being in a band but still, most of your fanbase praise you for writing songs they can relate to. What is the reason for this, according to you?
S: This realization came to me when I was talking to my boy Bear outside a show once. There's a reason we all listen to punk rock instead of top 40. There's a reason I'd rather be stage diving than at a bar. I think that most everyone I know involved in punk or hardcore is intrinsically fucked up on some level. There is something wrong with us. Maybe not "wrong", but certainly different. Because of this, I think we all share a similar outlook and because of that, we share similar experiences. I'm just writing songs about my life, but as it turns out, my life is pretty similar to a lot of other people's lives and honestly, it feels good to know we're going through this shit together.” (Alter The Press! Interview)

 

Again this is just so true. It is how I feel about my life every single day. I've always felt disenfranchised and like there is something wrong with me and the longer I live the more I think it is true. I'm not like other people and my friends aren't like other people and if wrong isn't the right word, then different works just like the quote says.

 

      The Wonder Years. Besides being a hit TV show it is also an amazing band. They are about as Pop Punk as modern Pop Punk gets besides being Four Year Strong or Set Your Goals (just my opinion). Their 2010 release, “The Upsides” is probably the greatest Pop Punk album I've ever heard, especially if you are over the age of 18 and have been at college for any amount of time or dropped out of college. The songs are simple and the lyrics are about staying optimistic and upbeat. Its about seeing all the crap going on around you and wishing you were elsewhere, wishing that you were normal even though that might not be preferable.

Their style is very simple, standard punk beats and harmonized whiny vocals. They don't really set out to be technical I think. To the Wonder Years it is all about message, it is all about giving people optimism and being on tour. 2010 isn't over and this is definitely my favorite album.

 

     I'm going to go through all the songs on the CD and explain it because I like it that much. I only have the original album not the re-release with three tracks so I will only be talking about those. I will be linking a youtube video to my top 3 favorite songs on the album with lyrics so here it goes.

 

  1. My Last Semester

 

What a song. I'll say it again, what a song. This song is all about coming to college and realizing it isn't anything like what you thought. The song goes through a lot of the archetypes of people at school and the singer is talking about how he is dropping out, sad, but I understand the feeling. Note the simplicity of the damn song and the directness of the lyrics.

 

Song Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U5XUj3DDb8&p

 

Lyrics:

 

I'm not sad anymore, I'm just tired of this place.
The weight of the world be okay if it would pick a shoulder to lean on
So I could stand up straight.

I'm not sad anymore, I'm just tired of this place.
The homophobic bullshit that's somehow okay
Just because you didn't mean it that way.

I can't take anymore of all the scum in this place.
Shitty dudes with tribal tattoos all around,
Lining up cheap beer and roofies for a party at their place.
Trying to convince freshmen they're somebody
By spending all of their parents' money on kegstands
And Matt says I don't fit in.

All this mallrat goth shit is killing me.
Thought that would end with high school at least.
But there are still kids and Matt says
"College hit those dudes like a ton of bricks."

So they're calling it blasphemy,
A fucking catastrophe
For saying it's a stupid choice to make.
But this place just brings misery.
I hate what it does to me.
I fight, but I can't escape the way that I don't fit in with any of this.
And I don't think we're the same.

I'm fucking losing my head trying to understand this.
Kids outside with guitars hoping for someone to notice.
No one wants to hear your sappy bullshit.

All these fake-tan girls laughing at art school kids
Getting lots in return for being substance-less.
You're too caught in semantics to see it,
But you're no fucking different.

So they're calling it blasphemy,
A fucking catastrophe
For saying it's a stupid choice to make.
But this place just brings misery.
I hate what it does to me.
I fight, but I can't escape the way that I don't fit in with any of this.
And I don't think we're the same.

No.

I'm not sad anymore, I'm just waiting.
It's two more months 'til I'm done with this.
And I don't make sense to anyone but my best friends.
And I don't fit in anywhere but the back of the van.

 

  1. Logan Circle

 

The World's Not Such a Shitty Place. To me, this song is all about causing trouble with friends and hating where you from or where you are. So great. The gang vocals at the end are glory.

 

  1. Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack

 

Besides having an awesome title (I know some people for who the title totally defines them) this is a nice song. Simplicity again.

 

  1. Dynamite Shovel

The Wonder Years aren't fond about religion and this is a fast short song about religion done wrong. It is about the ignorance of people who are arrogant.

 

  1. New Years With Carl Weathers

 

This song is about getting kicked down and getting right back up. Incidentally it also describes touring in the winter accurately as well (or at least as I interpret it).

 

  1. It's Never Sunny In South Philadelphia

 

Wishing for a deus ex machina sums this song up perfectly.

 

  1. Hostels And Brothels

 

I don't have much to say about this one, I don't really like it because it doesn't speak to me.

 

  1. Melrose Diner

 

Ever have a girl you want around because you like her but she is dating some guy who isn't interesting or different and probably is not as cool as you are? This song is for you.

 

  1. This Party Sucks

 

This is about how much binge drinking and partying in college/bars sucks. The lyric “I promised myself I'd try to be more social at parties” is what I say to myself every Friday night when hanging out with people, but I always fail, parties and alcohol aren't really my thing.

 

Song Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZtx__Jn2GU

 

Lyrics:

 

In case you were wondering
I can't get comfortable in my own skin
But it was bound to happen

In case you were wondering,
I'm twenty three and avoiding the bar scene,
Lycra pants, and designer jeans.
In case you were wondering,
I'm staying in.
I won't smell like cheap perfume or cigarettes tonight.

And every word that I said got drowned out
by a dance remix of a pop song I don't care about.
In case you forgot how bad I've been down,
just ask around 'cause you know this town loves to run its mouth.

Say, say you'll stay in with me today.
Say, say you'll stay.
'Cause you won't find me on the north Jersey club scene
With the Girls Gone Wild B-team.
I don't need to pump my fist to look sweet.

In case you were wondering,
I promised myself that I would try to be more social at parties.
Can someone tell these kids liking the rain no longer counts as an idiosyncrasy.
In fact, I think that Rupert Holmes wrote a song about it in the '70s.
And consequently, he also saved the Pina Colada industry.


Say, say you'll stay in with me today.
Say, say you'll stay.
'Cause you won't find me on the north Jersey club scene
With the Girls Gone Wild B-team.
I don't need to pump my fist to look sweet.

Say, say, say, say you'll stay.
Say, say, say, say you'll stay.

I can't believe I ended up here again
watching this terrible band play songs I hate in the basement.
I can't believe that I got stuck here again
while the kid with the dreads tells me he's smarter on acid.
I can't believe that I'm not finding a way so just say.

 

  1. Hey Thanks

 

Yay a song about love with horn lines and a female vocalist.

 

  1. Washington Square Park

 

All about being disenfranchised and learning your mistakes. This one is all about realizing that you are awkward “I’m trying to play the b-side to this awkward life of mine”.

 

Song Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O0sdkoQd18

 

Lyrics:

 

I’m looking for the upsides to these panic-attack nights
where I’m staying in eating take-out food by TV light
I’m trying to play the b-side to this awkward life of mine
You could flip me over
I’d sing a few lines about how
I’m so used to shooting myself in the kneecaps
standing in the way of progress or letting down my friends

I’m nailing shards of hope together
to put something over my head
because you know here it’s always raining
and it happened again. It happened again
She said, “I let this slide when we were younger
You know you don’t have to write like this
The whole world’s full of losers
If you get a chance to win, take it”

I stood on the roof with Matt and Molly
Watched the gray slide off the city
because it’s finally spring
We rode our bikes over to 6th Street
to Washington Square Park
to see if the tides would turn for me

I’m nailing shards of hope together
to put something over my head
because you know here it’s always raining
and it happened again. It happened again
She said, “I let this slide when we were younger
You know you don’t have to write like this
The whole world’s full of losers
If you get a chance to win, take it”

I left a lot of blood in California
on our first trip out west
I was younger and restless back then
and I thought, if no one’s in my corner
since everyone left
I’d better make it worth it

 

  1. All My Friends Are In Bar Bands

 

It really sucks when your friends move on and you don't even recognize them anymore.

 

 

 

Alter the Press! Interview - http://www.alterthepress.com/2010/01/interview-wonder-years.html

 

The Upsides Lyrics Page - http://www.plyrics.com/w/wonderyears.html

 

Youtube Playlist Containing all the songs on the album - http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=E3A770338307A486&feature=bf

 

 

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
dbanach's picture

Thanks for the nice review. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lyrics, they all had the common them of alienation from the values that drive the lives of the communities they find themselves in, and they usual mixture of pain and longing seeping out from each line. But the metaphors were fresh and the rhythms and cadences were well formed for song lyrics. The best surprise though was the music itself that went with them, which I would not have predicted from just reading the lyrics: upbeat and driving and driven towards self-creation, without a wisp of self-pity or angst. It was as if the music went beyond the lyrics to see that to define yourself in opposition to the opinions of another is still to let their opinions define you, and that freedom comes from forgetting them, forgiving yourself, and surging forward into what you can be.  So thanks. I might actually grab a couple of these songs and put them in my mix of upbeat tunes to listen to as I'm doing dishes, though I realize that was probably not what they had in mind as their target audience ;)