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The Wonder Years - The Upsides Album Cover

The Wonder Years - The Upsides

Reviewed by
9.4
The Wonder Years - The Upsides
Record Label: No Sleep Records
Release Date: January 26, 2010
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
This review is not going to have a long-winded introduction. I have to save the space to write about the album, if you can imagine that. The Wonder Years have already released the best pop-punk record of 2010 and we're not even done with January. I've spent a couple weeks with a leaked version of the album and my pre-order came in on the 21st (which led to me having a great day) and I am positive that my opinion about this being the best pop-punk album of 2010 will not change. This album is better than every pop-punk record released in 2009 and is already high on my list of favorites all-time. Admittedly, I had extremely high expectations of this album. As The Wonder Years released a few songs here and there and as I read Soupy's explanation of what The Upsides is all about, I kept envisioning the perfect album. Maybe this wasn't fair to The Wonder Years, for me to expect this, but I have to make this point clear: they came through, and they came through with flying colors. If you read the rest of the review, you'll read yourself through the musical and lyrical growth that The Wonder Years have exacted on this record and you'll discover exactly why this will be the best pop-punk album of the year. The Upsides has absolutely every piece of the puzzle that you need: relentless drumming, a solid singer, catchy guitar riffs, and a good message to boot. That's what I like about The Upsides the most: not enough bands write a whole album about one thing anymore. Lead singer Dan "Soupy" Campbell sings about looking for the upsides in life, about not being sad anymore, about starting over and starting new, and it couldn't come at a better time than the start of a decade. Maybe it's just because I related to the message, but I can't listen to any song on this record without feeling a little better than I did before. But most importantly, The Wonder Years pull off the entire concept without being pretentious, without it ever seeming anything other than wholly genuine, and with a heart and passion that a lot of bands in the scene could take pointers from.

Opener "My Last Semester" starts the album off without wasting any time: "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." The song continues at a furious pace, but when you get to the two-minute mark, in a place where songs on The Wonder Years' debut Get Stoked On It would end, guitarist Casey Cavaliere surprises everyone by taking a short lead. It doesn't sound forced, rather it fits in quite fluidly, and it is the beginning of a realization that The Wonder Years have matured by light-years musically. The song ends and leaves the listener feeling shell-shocked and drained, but above all, excited to hear more. The "I'm not sad anymore" line is present again in "Logan Circle", a song that is highlighted by its lyrics and gang vocal breakdown. Soupy uses the fountain in Logan Circle as a metaphor for a change in his life as he sings, "They turned on the fountain today at Logan Circle/I felt something in me change....I've been better/But I'm feeling okay/I'm not even sad anymore/I'm just so tired most nights." Next up is "Everything I Own Fits In This Backpack", which is about moving out and moving on. The song ends appropriately with "It took almost thirteen months/For me to be where I feel fine/I'm not as sad as I let myself believe sometimes", and it is definitely one of the highlights on The Upsides. It was hard for me to believe after listening to the first three songs alone that a band could go from writing about Cap'n Crunch and Han Solo on an album called Get Stoked On It to the lyrics present on this concept album. The change in their lyrics is reflected by the change in their musical style; The Wonder Years throw out the synth and the under-three-minute song length found on their first record for the truest pop-punk sound I've heard in a while and longer songs with real meaning that seemingly anyone can relate to.

The album takes a breather, if you can call it that, with "Dynamite Shovel", as it's only one minute long. But the song takes no break from The Wonder Years' new style, being even faster-paced than the three songs before it. The next three tracks, "New Years With Carl Weathers", "It's Never Sunny in South Philadelphia", and "Hostels and Brothels" follow in suit of the beginning of the album, with a consistent sound and ever-impressive lyrics. I love the music and The Wonder Years' style as a whole, but Soupy steals the show on The Upsides with his work; it's one of the most impressive lyrical performances on a pop-punk album ever. The highlight of those three is "It's Never Sunny in South Philadelphia", with a particularly catchy guitar part and one of the best choruses on the album: "Cause most days are bad days/But we can't just wait for someone to pull me off of the concrete/I stopped standing proud/A year ago now/What you see if just a shell of who I used to be/I can't believe I got this weak."

The last five tracks of The Upsides pull everything together perfectly. "Melrose Diner", the second song released to the masses from the album, is sure to be designated as an official single soon, with its catchy guitar hook during the introduction. In this song, the story that Soupy tells comes off a bit cheesy (boy hates girl, boy could "use her around", boy's friends tell him that girl's new boyfriend isn't as good as he is, boy realizes that girl's new boyfriend is good for her) ,but it manages to fit in nicely on the record. "Hey Thanks" is where the listener can truly appreciate, if they already haven't, how much The Wonder Years have grown up. Featuring a Rachel Minton on vocals, the song starts off with a ukulele and also incorporates a trombone. This song not only would have been out of place on Get Stoked On It, but it would have been written by a completely different band, which The Wonder Years have now evolved into. The emotion left from "Hey Thanks" is the perfect way to lead into first single "Washington Square Park", where the band simply puts on a pop-punk clinic. Strange for a single, though, the song doesn't follow your standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus format. Instead, after the first chorus, you get an atypical breakdown/verse part. After the second chorus, The Wonder Years simply ride out the song by repeating "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.'"

Finally, album closer "All My Friends are In Bar Bands" is the perfect last song, with a group of five fellow singers featured on the track. They each take turn singing, "I'm not sad anymore, I'm just tired of this place/If this year would just end, I think we'd all be okay," with Soupy taking the last line. The Upsides is the best pop-punk album released in recent memory. Last year, my favorites included Not Without a Fight, Good Views, Bad News, This Will Be the Death of Us, and Ups and Downsizing, the last of which I named the best of the year. I think that The Upsides calls all of these albums and raises them a bit. Like I said, it has every component you need for a successful album in this genre, and the message and lyrics it subscribes to is uplifting and makes it even better to listen to. If you buy any record this January, buy this one. Throw some money down on it because The Wonder Years aren't a sell-out band, and they do it all for their fans. Maybe you'll listen to it and it'll make you less sad.

Recommended If You Likepop-punk, awesome messages, being happy, getting through life, New Found Glory, The Swellers, Title Fight, Valencia, pop-punk, awesomeness, Soupy, Campbell's Chicken Noodle, hoodies, pre-orders, basically anything


Download These Firstfuck off. BUY this album.


Bare Essentials
1. My Last Semester
2. Logan Circle
3. Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack
4. Dynamite Shovel
5. New Year's With Carl Weathers
6. It's Never Sunny in South Philadelphia
7. Hostels and Brothels
8. Melrose Diner
9. This Party Sucks
10. Hey Thanks
11. Washington Square Park
12. All My Friends Are in Bar Bands
Produced By: Vince Ratti (boss) Run Time: 40 minutes
myspace.com/thewonderyearspa
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 110
02:33 PM on 02/10/10
#2
MrBojangles6244
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Loved this album. I'm totally a kool-aid drinker for this band now. Amazing.
09:10 PM on 02/11/10
#3
HometownHero
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Come on. This is a good album but this review is fucking ridiculous
09:34 PM on 02/11/10
#4
Yellowcard2006
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Just bought it on amazon. And also 94%? I'm a huge fan but...it's just a pop-punk album. A good one at that. But c'mon.

Well written though.
09:55 PM on 02/11/10
#5
Cøltøn
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Review is excellent and I agree with pretty much all of it.

Just bought it on amazon. And also 94%? I'm a huge fan but...it's just a pop-punk album. A good one at that. But c'mon.

Well written though.
What's with people thinking pop-punk can't be as good or legit as any other genre? This record (and a lot of other pop-punk records for that matter) are a hell of a lot more genuine than most indie-hipster shit out there.

I'm pretty sure this will be my AOTY which is crazy to say now. I don't think a record has ever hit me as hard as this one has.
10:10 PM on 02/11/10
#6
HeavenResign
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This record (and a lot of other pop-punk records for that matter) are a hell of a lot more genuine than most indie-hipster shit out there.

Exactly. I wish more people realized this.
10:14 PM on 02/11/10
#7
Nick_K99
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Just bought it on amazon. And also 94%? I'm a huge fan but...it's just a pop-punk album. A good one at that. But c'mon.

Well written though.
why do you say it's just a pop punk album. I hate how pop punk gets dismissed as low quality music because of the genre. Some of the best pop punk albums shit all over some god awful indie rock band efforts, but they're dismissed essentially because the fall into the genre of pop punk. Alternatively indie bands get astounding reviews because for some reason indie is considered better quality than pop punk. I call bullshit!
10:15 PM on 02/11/10
#8
Nick_K99
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Review is excellent and I agree with pretty much all of it.


What's with people thinking pop-punk can't be as good or legit as any other genre? This record (and a lot of other pop-punk records for that matter) are a hell of a lot more genuine than most indie-hipster shit out there.

I'm pretty sure this will be my AOTY which is crazy to say now. I don't think a record has ever hit me as hard as this one has.
Exactly

Haha you just beat me to the punch
10:28 PM on 02/11/10
#9
UnderMyDreams
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Holy long review.
11:02 PM on 02/11/10
anthonydarko
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If there was ever a reason for me to never listen to this record again, it was this review.
11:04 PM on 02/11/10
schenksta
Derp.
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Exactly. I wish more people realized this.

can't agree more
11:31 PM on 02/11/10
kinkywizard90
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you've got to be kidding, me. how dare you give this album's lyrics a 10. if i could spit on you right now, i would.
01:11 AM on 02/12/10
-ben
Finally here.
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Couldn't agree more. I don't know if anything's going to take down this album. This is the album that I'll be talking about when I say "that album came out my senior year in high school and changed my life..." the way my calc teacher talks about Jane Doe.
01:11 AM on 02/12/10
Kyle Garchar
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you've got to be kidding, me. how dare you give this album's lyrics a 10. if i could spit on you right now, i would.
....?
01:12 AM on 02/12/10
-ben
Finally here.
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you've got to be kidding, me. how dare you give this album's lyrics a 10. if i could spit on you right now, i would.
And I try to keep my internet snark to myself, but wow, fuck you.

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