It’s hard to imagine a pop-punk album receiving large amounts of hype. I mean this isn’t the early 2000’s anymore, but for some bizarre reason, pop-punk is on an incline once again and the one band that has formed the greatest amount of hype in the genre since New Found Glory’s Sticks And Stones is South Philly “realist” pop-punk extraordinaires, The Wonder Years. Their breakout effort The Upsides brought the name The Wonder Years to the forefront of the pop-punk scene and additionally brought an incredible amount of hype to their next effort titled Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing; a thirteen-song album documenting vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s journey through his new life in 2010.
Suburbia doesn’t hesitate to show off how hard The Wonder Years have been working in the past year. Aptly named opener “Came Out Swinging” does exactly what the title suggests. Introducing the theme of the album with a bang, as the utmost maturity is shown in the instrumentals and as Soupy gives all he has into yelling “I came out swinging from a South Philly basement/Caked in stale beer and sweat/Under half-lit fluorescents/And I spent the winter writing songs about getting better/And if I’m being honest/I’m getting there” to end the song, it is simple to see early on in the album that The Wonder Years gave everything they could give for this one.
Songs like “Local Man Ruins Everything,” “And Now I’m Nothing,” and “Hoodie Weather” show how musically capable The Wonder Years have become since The Upsides. Though talent was present on their previous releases, guitarists Matt Brasch, Casey Cavaliere and Nick Steinborn along with bassist Josh Martin exemplify the word growth, but the element most worthy of note is how advanced drummer Mike Kennedy has made his beats this time around. Kennedy rivals any work that Travis Barker has ever done with this release as his insanely precise and frantic drumming steals the show on Suburbia.
Though the growth is there, The Wonder Years still mix it up by providing fast pop-punk jams like “Don’t Let Me Cave In,” “Summers in PA,” and the touching, yet still blistering “You Made Me Want to Be a Saint.”
The lyrics of Suburbia, while straying away from the “I’m not sad anymore” mentality of The Upsides, still show off Soupy’s clever lyricism. Pop culture references such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Denny’s and Morgan Spurlock pop up as expected and Soupy’s humor is still as present as ever, even if the overall theme of the lyrics are dark (“You left the room receded like my hair-line” and “We’re this generation’s Outsiders/But we’ve got worse intentions/And they’ve got better haircuts.”)
But some of the most touching moments of Suburbia‘s lyrics are when they reference lyrics from The Upsides. Along with instrumental maturity, Soupy follows suit with his lyrics in songs like “I Won’t Say the Lord’s Prayer” in which he takes the idea of the previous Christian criticizer “Dynamite Shovel” and delivers that core idea with dignity, replacing “I’ll see you mother fuckers in hell” with “These billboards that flaunt these scare tactics make me think you’re only good if you’re afraid of being punished/Every single Sunday, church bells wake me up/But it’s never enough to pull me out of bed.” This song, along with closer “And Now I’m Nothing,” features some of the best lyrics Soupy has ever written, as the former comes off as controversial and the latter closes the album superbly as Soupy exclaims “I’ll put my life back together in silence while writing songs on Molly’s guitar/And Suburbia, stop pushing/I know what I’m doing.”
So ladies and gentlemen, look out, because if you thought that The Upsides would stand as one of the best pop-punk albums of all time, you will be blown away as Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing snatches that core sound and blows it up to superhuman levels. And to add to the massive hype just a sliver more, this album, without a doubt, is one of the best pop-punk albums ever created.