It’s hard for me to put the entirety of The Wonder Years’ new album Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing into one 500-700 word review, so to expand on what I wrote in my previous review, here is a track-by-track editorial on my thoughts for the new album. So without further adieu, this is Soupy’s story.
Came Out Swinging
Prelude – “I spent the winter writing songs about getting better, and if I’m being honest I’m getting there.”
Opening the album, the aptly named “Came Out Swinging” welcomes the listener into the world of Soupy. As he belts “I spent this year as a ghost/And I’m not sure what I’m looking for,” Soupy explains exactly what it is like for him to be living in his new life. It is also the very first example of how far each band member has grown musically as the guitars are more intricate, the drums more experimental and above all, the vocals far more passionate and heartfelt than ever. As Soupy closes this song, his vocals bleed with every ounce of being he has.
Woke Up Older
November/December 2009 – “As I turned to leave, I caught myself in the mirror to see I aged a year this week”
Soupy’s well-known ex, Jess, makes another grand appearance on Suburbia as he explains how waking up with her every day left him feeling like he has aged a week. “Hey, Jess/I woke up older carrying two years in the bags under my eyes,” Soupy exclaims over the catchy guitar hooks of Matt Brasch and Casey Cavaliere, forming one of the most memorable choruses on the album.
Local Man Ruins Everything
January 2010 -“What I learned was it’s not about forcing happiness, it’s about not letting sadness win.”
As Soupy introduces the song with “The fountain was off!,” referencing back to “Logan Circle” of The Upsides, the true somber tone of the album sets in as we sincerely see Soupy’s troubles emerge. Mike Kennedy’s heavy, hectic drums control the central nerves of the song, backing the devotion of Soupy’s words. Soupy had this to say about the track: “For everyone that relates, we’re not alone.”
Setting – “The whole town feels dead. I can’t blame it.”
“Suburbia” is the brief telling of how pathetic Soupy’s suburban life is and how heavily the socioeconomic trend of the town effects every resident in it. Huge power chords blast through the background of this song, setting the scene for the rest of the album.
My Life as a Pigeon
January/February/March 2010 – “I guess this is what it’s like; the life of a pigeon.”
The first documentation of the struggles of being in a band, “My Life as a Pigeon” showcases the ins and outs of a full-time job as a band member. Opening and ending with one of the most forceful riffs of the album, “My Life as a Pigeon” delivers the feeling of what brings band members down, both in the lyrics and the music.
Summers in PA
April/May/June 2010 – “I can’t think of a better way for the night to end.”
Conveying exactly what the title suggests, this track is one of the happier moments in Soupy’s year as he sings about spending the summer nights goofing off with his friends. With a little help from Dan O’Connor and Alan Day of Four Year Strong, the hooks fly as the happy-go-lucky mentality of the song pushes forward in humorous fashion.
I Won’t Say the Lord’s Prayer
April/May 2010 – “I refuse to spend life on my knees and I won’t let somebody else make my decisions for me.”
Christianity is one thing that Soupy does not understand, nor wants to be a part of, backed in the line “If we’re all just Christians or Lions/Then I think I’d rather be on the side with sharper teeth/I don’t need saving.” Much slower than his previous rant on religion, “Dynamite Shovel,” Soupy explains his beliefs with maturity, while still being slightly controversial, which is exactly what we would expect from Soupy’s I-don’t-give-a-fuck philosophy.
May 2010 – “I cut my hand on a piece of glass, and I hope the scar lasts so I don’t forget that there’s been a table for me there.”
Reflecting on where you came from and always remembering that you have a place in life is crucial when one is growing up. This song reiterates that message perfectly as the delicate, yet hurried guitar work of Brasch and Cavaliere lead the song, up until the bridge where the band melts together beautifully as a unit, as they all shout the chorus together.
I’ve Given You All
Setting – “Man, I’m sorry.”
Once again recreating the scene of the story, Soupy sympathizes along with an acoustic guitar the story of the alcoholics and lone homeless man that got beaten to death in his neaiborhood. He reveals an even greater anguish that resides in his place of living, yet how nothing is done about it.
Don’t Let Me Cave In
May/June 2010 – “I couldn’t help thinking of watching the Sears Tower collapse as a kid. I feel like I might do the same thing. Don’t let it happen to me.”
Soupy’s internal struggles reached their breaking point in mid-2010, but with the help of his friend and then-No Sleep Records label mate Evan Weiss of Into It. Over It., he was able to overcome his emotions and move on. Being the most upfront pop-punk jam, “Don’t Let Me Cave In” offers one of the most singable chorus while maintaining the theme of the album.
You Made Me Want to be a Saint
August 2010 – “It was how I know you would want this to be a fast one and not some cliché ballad.”
Awareness of the passing of Soupy’s longtime friend Mike Pelone was made prevalent on one of The Upsides‘ B-sides “We Won’t Bury You,” but this song is the first genuine tribute to his fallen friend. The fastest, to-the-point punk song on the album, this track delivers what every punk fan loves and it has a touching message along with it, something only The Wonder Years could accomplish.
October/November 2010 – “I was born here, and I’ll probably die here.”
Break out your hooded sweatshirts and beanie caps for this track ladies and gentlemen. Lyrically, this song would fit perfectly on The Upsides as it’s all about witnessing the people you grew up with grow up themselves and once again reflecting on life at home as a teenager. As Soupy shouts “As fucked as this place got/It made me, me” that message is as straightforward as ever. Musically, it is far more advanced than anything on The Upsides, following its predecessors perfectly.
And Now I’m Nothing
December 2010 – “Suburbia, stop pushing; I know what I’m doing.”
The closer of Suburbia is one song that people should reach for when they want to show their friends how far The Wonder Years have come since they were just six dudes from the keystone state. Musically, “And Now I’m Nothing” is beautiful and elegant, featuring the most mature guitar work of The Wonder Years’ careers, as they back Soupy stating “I had dreams of myself as the Allen Ginsberg of this generation/But without the talent, madness or vision/I guess it’s looking hopeless,” showing how humbling his journey has been, and concludes the album on a promising note that things will be looking up, while also providing the best song the band have cohesively written.