The Wonder Years - The Greatest Generation (Hopeless)
Pop punk is undergoing something of an overhaul in recent years. Indeed, pop punk is in the midst of a radical cultural recycle that shows no signs of slowing down whatsoever. You could blame Green Day for going all political, you’d be a lot closer to the truth for pointing at emo changing the lyrical landscape around a decade ago but US pop punk bands have begun to write about the confusion of directionless adolescence, the never ending search for your life to have meaning and how the most complex relationship you have in life is often with yourself. In this realm, Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell is king and last year, The Wonder Years created an album that maintained the catchiness and melodic qualities of pop punk with a far more grown up lyrical landscape and an impassioned delivery that is impossible to not feel in your core.
The Greatest Generation’s themes are universal and ones that most of us will either have been through, are going through or will go through. The uncertainty of the path your life has taken being dissected on Passing Through A Screen Door with couplets like “I don’t want my children growing up to be anything like me” and the “Jesus Christ, I’m 26…” refrains piercing the heart in the way that only truth bullets can. We Could Die Like This explores the feeling of being rudderless and just wanting the comforts of home and The Devil In My Bloodstream is a bittersweet song that covers ancestry and one’s place in their own family’s bloodline. It’s an album that’s built on reflections, experiences and asking some of life’s more difficult questions with songs that are complex in structures and rich on evoking raw human emotions. I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral captures this best, the seven minute opus retreading the album’s best vocal melodies over the top of a song that outlines Soupy’s soul-cleansing appraisal of his life to date. It’s one skill to be able to pen poignant, thought-provoking introspections but it’s another entirely to make you feel them like Soupy does all the way through The Greatest Generation.
Musically, it’s an album that is rammed full of melodies that will stay with you for months on end. Repeat listens get you inside the impeccably timed changes of pace and it elicits moods out of the listener from melancholy to standing defiantly triumphant.
There are plenty of bands out there doing this sort of thing in 2014 with recent albums from Handguns, Real Friends, Candy Hearts and The Story So Far all hitting the mark but The Wonder Years are the kings of modern pop punk’s more contemplative and personally evaluative narrative. Well, I guess this is growing up.