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Wonder Years, The - The Upsides Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.75
Musicianship 7.75
Lyrics 9.5
Production 8.75
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 10
Reviewer Tilt 9.25
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.6
Musicianship 7.6
Lyrics 8.4
Production 7.83
Creativity 7.9
Lasting Value 8.57
Reviewer Tilt 8.65
Average: 81%

Wonder Years, The - The Upsides

Reviewed by: DylanPPPP (12/23/10)
The Wonder Years - The Upsides
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: January 26, 2010


For just about every young-adult here in America, there comes a time in their life when they have to leave their old lives and make something new for themselves. They have to break out of the comfort zone that has been built around them by their parents, their school and/or their lack of responsibilities. They have to either sink or swim in nearly complete isolation. For some this course is one that has been impatiently waited for. For others it is one that is dreaded. The Wonder Years’ singer/songwriter Dan “Soupy” Campbell is one who has gone through this process, and has earnestly awaited for it for quite some time. He was just gracious enough to document it into an incredibly fun, pop-punk album, simply titled The Upsides.

The Upsides takes the listener on a twelve track journey through the life of Campbell, fresh out of college, undoubtedly predisposed to face whatever our cruel world will barrage him with next. The very first track, “My Last Semester” sets the pace of the album, simply stating “I’m not sad anymore/I’m just tired of this place/the weight of the world would be okay/if it would pick a shoulder to lean on/so I could stand up straight.” After this simple and effective intro, The Wonder Years unleash an amicable compilation of fun, relatable pop-punk jams. From raising hell as a last hurrah in his neighborhood (“Logan Circle“), to struggling with keeping sane while on tour (“Hostels and Brothels“), Campbell keeps the theme of looking on the bright side fluent throughout the entire 12 song album. As each track goes on, the listener will witness the challenges Campbell faces and how he somehow finds the upside to each, in the form of catchy choruses and edgy verses, constantly repeating the line "I'm not sad anymore."

Finally, the album comes to a climactic ending with “All My Friends are in Bar Bands.” On this final track, Campbell describes all of his long-time companions and where they are now compared to the more innocent years of high-school and college. At the cessation of the song, pop-punk fans of this generation will get a real treat as vocalists Matty Arsenautt of A Loss For Words, Dave Mackinder of Fireworks, Shane Henderson of Valencia, Jamie Rhoden of Title Fight, and Nik Bruzzese of Man Overboard alternate singing a line that brings us back once again to the beginning of the album, "I'm not sad anymore/I'm just tired of this place/And if this year would just end/I think we'd all be okay" until finally it culminates in Campbell belting these final words.

Incredibly relatable lyrics aside, musically The Wonder Years convey the basic pop-punk formula, and add a certain flair to it that can’t be accurately depicted into words. Guitar riffs that are hookier than Ferris Bueller added to incredibly tight and efficient drums create a sound that can only be described as happy pop-punk.

To some, Campbell's vocals could come off as "whiny" or "annoying," but in the end, Campbell delivers a very appreciable vocal performance. Demonstrating above average range and a very charismatic presence, when put in context with the addicting guitars of Matthew Brasch, Casey Cavaliere and Nick Steinborn, the punching bass lines of Josh Martin and the slick rolls of Michael Kennedy, Campbell's singing emerges as quite satisfactory.

All in all, The Upsides is the epitome of a fun listen that somehow breaches a deeper level within the listener. Skim this album and the outcome will be ineffective, but give it your full attentionl, and listeners may reveal an album of the year contender.

Recommended If You LikePop-Punk, New Found Glory, Fireworks, Man Overboard, This Time Next Year
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19
09:40 PM on 12/30/10
#2
eatbabiesyum
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it's weird...i absolutely hate new found glory.
but i absolutely love the wonder years.
are there any other bands similar to them? im not huge into pop punk (i do listen to a good amount of it though) but i've never ran across another band that reminded me of them :/
01:42 AM on 12/31/10
#3
myhearturhands
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Such a good album
06:38 AM on 12/31/10
#4
Matt Chylak
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Cut the while first paragraph. It's unnecessary blather.
"read deeply into it like a John Grisham novel"? Hahahahaha fail.
07:57 AM on 12/31/10
#5
Allstarme23
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it's weird...i absolutely hate new found glory.
but i absolutely love the wonder years.
are there any other bands similar to them? im not huge into pop punk (i do listen to a good amount of it though) but i've never ran across another band that reminded me of them :/
check out fireworks set your goals four year strong man overboard title fight.
08:35 AM on 12/31/10
#6
DylanPPPP
Don't ya like clowns?!
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Cut the while first paragraph. It's unnecessary blather.
"read deeply into it like a John Grisham novel"? Hahahahaha fail.

Um, thanks? I guess?
I know my analogies suck, I'm still working on that!
I am quite young after all.
08:59 AM on 12/31/10
#7
Matt Chylak
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Um, thanks? I guess?
I know my analogies suck, I'm still working on that!
I am quite young after all.

Don't stretch for a metaphor you can't properly employ. John Grisham novels are known for their lack of complexity, straightforward narrative and weak characters...in other words, not at all the type of book one would "read into"
09:08 AM on 12/31/10
#8
DylanPPPP
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Don't stretch for a metaphor you can't properly employ. John Grisham novels are known for their lack of complexity, straightforward narrative and weak characters...in other words, not at all the type of book one would "read into"

Well consider me in editing mode! I'm not familiar with novelists so I probably shouldn't have even went there anyway. Any suggestion of what I should change it to?
10:13 AM on 12/31/10
#9
eatbabiesyum
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check out fireworks set your goals four year strong man overboard title fight.
thanks! i havn't listened to most of those yet actually!
10:21 AM on 12/31/10
DylanPPPP
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thanks! i havn't listened to most of those yet actually!
He's got it basically right. Fireworks is fantastic. Especially if you loved The Upsides.
02:37 PM on 12/31/10
Matt Chylak
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Well consider me in editing mode! I'm not familiar with novelists so I probably shouldn't have even went there anyway. Any suggestion of what I should change it to?
you don't need to put a particular novelist, it should be fine (though cliche) with "read deeply into it" without the example.
02:19 PM on 01/01/11
DrewWalker
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One of my favorite pop punk albums to come out this year. It really grew on me. This band is great!
03:06 PM on 01/02/11
jessem131
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Good review. Interested in checking this out now.
02:10 PM on 01/03/11
rawkandrowl
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it's weird...i absolutely hate new found glory.
but i absolutely love the wonder years.
are there any other bands similar to them? im not huge into pop punk (i do listen to a good amount of it though) but i've never ran across another band that reminded me of them :/
Try out Miracle Max - our Purevolume page is at http://www.purevolume.com/miraclemax
02:45 PM on 01/03/11
eatbabiesyum
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