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The Wonder Years – The Upsides

January 26, 2010

The Wonder Years have done a lot of growing, and they’re not sad anymore.

The band’s lyrics have changed from random rhymes about Cap’n Crunch and Cosmonauts to intelligent prose about not letting life get you down. Overall, The Upsides is about taking whatever comes to you and making the best of it.

If anyone was turned off by the production of The Wonder Years’ first full length album Get Stoked on It!, throw all of those notions out the window. The Upsides sounds flawless. This album has a much deeper sound than their first album, which really showcases what the band is capable of musically. The band has changed for the better in every facet.

When you remove the CD from its case, it reveals a passage about the album written by vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell.

“More than anything else, The Upsides is a record about fighting back. I felt like the past year left me and all of my friends defeated. Our early-twenties had beaten us down. We listened to sad songs and we watched sad movies and we talked about sad shit. It was like everyone looked at the rest of their lives and decided that now was the time to start being miserable.”

“I had given up, and this was going to be a record about just that, and then, one day, I was riding my bike down 19th Street on the way to work and from the top of Callowhill, I could see that the fountain at Logan Circle had been turned on. Something clicked in my head and I guess it was because this meant it was Spring, or maybe it was just because it reminded me of happier times, but I decided then that it wasn’t okay to be this defeated at twenty-three.”

Well, the quintet from Philadelphia moved into Campbell’s apartment in the early part of the summer of 2009, and wrote an amazingly positive pop-punk record.

The album opens with the anthemic “My Last Semester,” which appropriately starts off with Campbell singing “I’m not sad anymore/I’m just tired of this place.” This track is the ultimate song about not fitting in, which is another theme carried throughout the record.

But, The Wonder Years haven’t totally ditched their comical lyrics. “Logan Circle” talks about drowning your sorrows in Lucky Charms and soy milk and “New Years with Carl Weathers” drops a sexting reference along with a shout out to the friends they’ve made at Steak and Shake.

“Dynamite Shovel” takes a hard shot at racism and bigotry while talking about the scumbags the band saw congregating at a rest stop in Tennessee. Campbell sings that their small town minds stay small, but the world has evolved. He ends by saying someone should burn the place to the ground.

This album is full of positive pop-punk anthems, but one track that really stands out is the ukulele ballad “Hey Thanks” featuring Rachel Minton of Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer. The track is told from the perspective of a guy who is thanking his girlfriend for putting up with all of his crap. Campbell really showcases how much his voice has improved since their first full length album. Their voices blend together beautifully to create an amazing song. “Hey Thanks” also features Matt Belanger from We Are The Union on trombone.

The album concludes perfectly with the coming-of-age track “All My Friends are in Bar Bands.” The Wonder Years enlisted even more pop-punk stars for this track including Shane Henderson of Valencia, Dave Mackinder of Fireworks, Matty Arsenault of A Loss For Words, Jamie Rhoden of Title Fight and Nik Bruzzese of Man Overboard. All of these guys take turns reciting the albums opening line “I’m not sad anymore/I’m just tired of this place,” to create a perfect conclusion to The Upsides.

The Wonder Years have created their masterpiece, and anyone who is into pop-punk should pick this album up immediately. Small bands like this need your support.

I know it’s early, but it will be hard for another band to top The Upsides for album of the year.

“The whole world wants you to be miserable. It wants you to put your head down, sigh to yourself and give up on being happy, and I know just as well as anyone that sometimes, giving up seems like the only option, but if you take one thing from this record, I hope it’s this: Don’t give [them] an inch. Stand your ground every chance you get because everybody deserves a chance to be happy.”

-Dan “Soupy” Campbell

Release Date: January 26, 2010

Label: No Sleep


Track Listing:
1. My Last Semester
2. Logan Circle
3. Everything I Own Fits in This Backpack
4. Dynamite Shovel
5. New Years 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

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 26, 2010 9:38 pm

    great review, really thorough. I know this albums ganna be on repeat in the car for a while.

  2. heartonsleeveblog permalink
    January 26, 2010 9:49 pm

    hey man. great review. mine was way longer haha, i really took to the album. i definitely think this will be the best pop-punk record of 2010, it’s already one of my favorite ones ever. it’s cool that we have similar tastes, i’ll be sure to stay in touch.

    • January 26, 2010 9:50 pm

      Yeah, yours was quite long. HAHA. It was really good though. I try to keep mine brief.

      If you want to exchange links, let me know.


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