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Album Review
The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All... Album Cover

The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All...

Reviewed by
8.5
The Wonder Years - Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing
Record Label: Hopeless; No Sleep Records
Release Date: June 14, 2011
In order to ensure this review retains some degree of objectivity, I have a confession to make – I love pop-punk. Not the pop-punk of the last 3 or 4 years, but what I suppose is now considered classic pop-punk – early 2000s, self-titled era New Found Glory, The Movielife, The Starting Line and Sugarcult, amongst others. In my opinion, the genre has been suffering from an extended quality slump, and it is with this in mind that I am pleased to declare straight out the blocks that Suburbia... is a very, very good pop-punk record.

As soon as album opener "Came Out Swinging" kicks in, the pace barely lets up, drummer Mike Kennedy underpinning the speed with frequent rolls and rapid fills. Indeed, the songs race along with an energy and vivacity which has been sadly absent from the genre in recent years. Present are the essential bouncy verses, resplendent with some of the catchier choruses heard recently (see the chorus on "Woke Up Older"). This is the sound of a band clearly enjoying their work and the music they create. Breaking boundaries is not the objective of this band or this record, but each and every song is instilled with such an infectious sense of fun that is almost impossible not to smile and nod along.

Lyrically the album draws heavy inspiration from the Allen Ginsberg poem "America", and a recurring theme is the suburbia of the title. Lansdale, Pennsylvania is home for the Wonder Years, and specific places and locales are mentioned throughout, distilling a real sense of community and small-town togetherness throughout the album – a quality which is reflected in the good-natured fun portrayed by the music. This coherence and unity is underpinned with three tracks which provide the thematic spine of the album, in "Suburbia", "I've Given You All" and album-closer "And Now I'm Nothing". The first two are short and sweet homages to the city that the members of the band grew up in, the latter casting an eye to the future of the city and what it holds in store for The Wonder Years. The ending lyric of "I know we've got miles to go/But I'm putting my shoulder to the wheel" ensures that the final flavor of the album is one of optimism, the minute-and-a-half instrumental outro reassuring of the quality of musicianship that this band has at their disposal. Said outro, with its shifts in tempo and feel, is a real highlight of the album and suggests big things lie ahead for this group.

The album shines elsewhere, also. The soaring chorus of third single "Coffee Eyes" is powerful enough the first time it kicks in, but by the time the band have added several voices by the end of the song, it is positively huge. The track, and chorus in particular, resolutely scream for a live setting and an audience roaring back every word. The same too can be said of "Summers in PA" - which sees guest vocals from Dan O'Connor and Alan Day from Four Year Strong. The gang vocals which are offset by the FYS boys are sure to bring a huge grin to the face of anyone who has ever been to a house party and maybe turned the music up that little bit too loud (which, ironically, is how this particular song is best enjoyed), and again deserve to be a live favorite.

Dan Campbell’s vocals are perhaps slightly lower than the standard pop-punk voice, and all the stronger for it. With able backing from the rest of the band, his is one of the stronger performances heard on a pop-punk album in several years. Strong gang vocals also permeate the album, punctuating many of the songs with the power and community spirit reflected in Campbell’s lyrics. The band have perfected the pop-punk tactic of cutting the music in time with some of the more powerful or poignant of their singer's words, a ploy often used to accentuate the (often anthemic) ensuing chorus - see the intro to "Came Out Swinging" and "Local Man Ruins Everything". Even when the band chooses to slow the pace of the album, as on "I Won't Say the Lord's Prayer" or "I've Given You All", Campbell's lyrics ensure that the songs lose none of their impact.

"I Won't Say the Lord's Prayer" in particular is very impressive lyrically, Campbell presenting his views on organised religion. To say he's not too keen on the subject would be an understatement, the content of the song seeing the singer criticising both the institution and its followers whilst rejecting any personal faith, stating that he refuses "to spend life on [his] knees". The inclusion of a song so critical of such a popular belief is a bold move by the band, but it is intelligently written and delivered, the music ebbing and flowing with the sung content. The words Campbell sings never invite the suggestion that he is attacking religion blindly, his providing of personal reasons ("these billboards that flaunt these scare tactics/make me think you're only good if you're afraid of being punished") for doubting religion suggesting he has conducted the forethought necessary to tackle such a contested topic in a considered fashion. The inclusion again of local landmarks and Pennsylvanian churches referenced by names ties the song to the rest of the album and assures that it does not feel as if it has been included merely as an afterthought.

Campbell sings “I’m onto something, I can feel it” on "My Life as a Pigeon", and on this evidence, it is almost impossible to disagree with him. With Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing, The Wonder Years have produced one of the most exciting pop-punk albums I have heard in many years. Expect big things in their future, and soon.

Recommended Tracks: Came Out Swinging, Woke Up Older, Don’t Let Me Cave In, And Now I'm Nothing

Recommended If You LikeThe Movielife; Fireworks; The Story So Far - Under Soil and Dirt
This review is a user submitted review from tremain27823. You can see all of tremain27823's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
08:02 AM on 08/25/11
#2
cococrisp20
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I'm surprised you liked this album being an old school pop punk fan, because to me, it seems TWY has more of an alt. influence in their music and it's much more darker sounding than most old school pop punk like NFG. Great review though man, it is a great album.
09:10 AM on 08/25/11
#3
scott!athedisco
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"Came out swinging" is my favorite wonder years song ever, and is immediately followed by my least favorite ever - "woke up older." had a blast listening to this album but it doesnt hold the same place in my heart as upsides unfortunately =( better lyrics but lacked the hooks
10:24 AM on 08/25/11
#4
yayitsjoe
An American Workplace.
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i don't understand the riyl at all. especially the story so far.
10:25 AM on 08/25/11
#5
crf1895
get kinda awesome
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wonderful, wonderful record. i struggled to dig it at first, but when i did, i realized how awesome of a concept these guys have created. musicianship would be a 9 for me, other than that you did a good job and gave it fair justice.
11:43 AM on 08/25/11
#6
brainstew123
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i still liked the upsides better, although soupys voice has def improved with this one
02:37 PM on 08/25/11
#7
DanEstrada
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pretty well written review. This was a pretty damn good CD as well, and I look forward to see what else the Wonder Years have in store
04:25 PM on 08/25/11
#8
Steeeve Perry
Pushin' th' little daisies
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I still just prefer The Upsides because it's faster and that's what really caught my attention. This is definitely a catchier and more varied record though, and deserved of the praise it has received.
10:10 PM on 08/25/11
#9
AP_Punk
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I'm surprised you liked this album being an old school pop punk fan, because to me, it seems TWY has more of an alt. influence in their music and it's much more darker sounding than most old school pop punk like NFG. Great review though man, it is a great album.
heh, NFG isn't really "old school pop-punk." Crimpshrine, Discount, Fifteen, Mr. T Experience? yeah, that's old school pop-punk.

and i'd say "the lord's prayer" is "controversial", only if you've fed yourself music that consists of songs about girls and hanging out with your bros.

just throwing that out there.
10:52 PM on 08/28/11
icynova
Love is easier made than kept!
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heh, NFG isn't really "old school pop-punk." Crimpshrine, Discount, Fifteen, Mr. T Experience? yeah, that's old school pop-punk.

and i'd say "the lord's prayer" is "controversial", only if you've fed yourself music that consists of songs about girls and hanging out with your bros.

just throwing that out there.

Haha. Mxpx
02:34 PM on 09/05/11
djbussell
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some of the most honest lyrics ive ever heard on this album
04:58 AM on 09/21/11
SalKelsoWoah
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I think my favorite part about this album is how Soupy used an incredible amount of Ginsberg influence in his lyric writing process. I've always been envious of TWY for being able to take everyday occurences and turn them into songs that just seem to correlate with their listeners personal lives. This is an awesome album and I can definitely say "I Won't Say the Lord's Prayer" is my favorite song.
02:38 PM on 10/01/11
yeamusic21
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this band is blowing up so fast!

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