With the recent scary news of Kanye West encouraging Will Smith to get back in the studio, I think it’s evident now more than ever that pop music is in desperate need of a savior. And apparently Kanye thinks that he can fill this role because rumors abound that he will he name his latest album Yeezus. Please, please someone stop him before he crucifies himself on stage like GG Allin threatened to do so for years.
Well before Kanye rises from the dead, there are a few bands that are lining up for the job and one of them happens to be The Wonder Years. Sadly though, I think that they will fall a little short as well. First of all, what is with the kids today and their lazy efforts when it comes to band names? Cossbysweater, The Wonder Years, Boy Meets World? I’m just waiting for the day when Night Court and Moesha are headlining Coachella. But I guess what matters most to their fans and for those who are just now discovering their music is not their name but the fact that they fill their need for a guilty pleasure. This is why guys flock to the latest Fast and The Furious movie or girls watch Dirty dancing for the 1800th time; sometimes you just need mindless entertainment. And The Wonder Years do just that by providing you music that you expect to hear playing over a MTV reality show or during a party scene of a teenage romantic comedy.
That’s the problem with pop punk, it all sounds the same. Bands like Good Charlotte and Blink 182 are like batteries; when you through with them, you simply replace them with the next band that has too much product in their hair. So the next double A installment comes in the form of The Wonder Years and their latest effort The Greatest Generation.
It starts off with one of the album’s few bright spots in There There. Musically it’s strong as they finally mix up their sound a bit by not playing the same chord over and over again and Dan Campbell gives you lyrics that you can identify with by singing about being awkward and nervous. But it’s like they were going through heroin withdrawals and reverted back to what they are comfortable playing as soon as Passing Through A Screen Door begins. Now to their credit, some of the lyrics aren’t bad. In Screen Door he questions the fact that he’s 26 years old and still single and wonders if he has made bad choices in life because all of his friends and relatives have wives and children. And then there’s Dismantling Summer where he is dealing with a loved one who is in the hospital and the fears that come along with the thought of losing them.
Now all of this is great but it’s a bit too introspective and depressing for pop punk. These lyrics would be better served over twangy guitar with Taylor Swift singing them. With punk music you want anthems that you can scream along too; something about anarchy, partying, and girls. The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves is the album’s best song and this is where you start to hear their true punk sound coming out. They punish you with heavy guitar in a manner that makes you feel like they are getting every bit of anger and aggression out of their system that has built up since their last album; and the song ends with Campbell yelling “I came here looking for a fight’. Now that’s more like it. However there are far too many low points in Generation; with the lowest coming in the form of Madelyn, an acoustic number. I don’t know why punk bands do this; there should always be distortion in their music. He tries to be punk rock by yelling “I don’t believe there’s a god, I don’t think there’s someone coming to save us” but then he follows it up with “I know your cold scars turn purple, I know how the Irish goodbyes feel”. I will mercifully spare you the rest but just know that with every song sounding the same musically there just isn’t enough lyrically going on to separate this album from the pack. I would say look elsewhere this summer to get your guilty pleasure fix.