“I’m not sad anymore.” This single statement is now the trademark phrase that has become synonymous with six-piece pop-punk group The Wonder Years ever since its inclusion in their breakout album The Upsides. When you think positivity and pop-punk, you think The Wonder Years. Now, about a year and a half later, they are set to release their new album and Hopeless Records debut titled Suburbia: I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing, on June 14th. Along with all of the album info, The Wonder Years released a brand new track from this record titled “Local Man Ruins Everything” exclusively on AbsolutePunk.net, and let me be the first to say that after hearing this track, Suburbia is now my most anticipated album of the rest of this year.
“Local Man Ruins Everything,” aside from being a Simpsons reference, is a powerful song about vocalist Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s realization that achieving happiness isn’t the end of the battle, but that maintaining that happiness is just as monumental of a fight. As Soupy opens the song by belting “The fountain was off/This is the first time I’ve been back to the city in months,” (referring back to the lyrics of “Logan Circle”) it is clear that this new record is not going to serve the same positive message as The Upsides. But what is blatantly obvious is how matured “Local Man” sounds in comparison to The Wonder Years’ earlier work. Incorporating a huge opening riff and some delicate breaks from the frantic drum work of Mike Kennedy, The Wonder Years have shown the world that they are far from their days of songs about pirates, zombies and ninjas. With a much less standard song structure and the most natural-sounding vocals of Soupy’s career, “Local Man” is a statement that The Wonder Years aren’t here to fuck around. They’re here to help the world, one song at a time.
The most notable element of “Local Man” is also the most notable element about The Wonder Years as a whole. Every word that Soupy has penned down in the past few years has been nothing but incredibly to the point and honest, and this song is no exception. Exclaiming “I’m not a self-help book/I’m just a fucked up kid” during the chorus shows that Soupy’s life isn’t one big happy road to positivity as revealed on The Upsides, and as he continues with “What I learned was/It’s not about forcing happiness/It’s about not letting sadness win,” he reiterates the point that achieving a happy way of life is a consistently uphill battle.
Though “Local Man” exhibits an evolved sound, it also stays true to The Wonder Years’ roots. The sense that this is still a pop-punk song stays relevant in the form of a chill-worthy group chant and a few trademark quirky lyrics that the band is known for (“I walked upstairs to shave my beard”).
All in all this song blows away any expectations I had for this band. The Wonder Years are a band that is slowly growing in popularity and deserves every bit of attention that they receive. In the increasingly monotonous genre that is pop-punk, The Wonder Years have taken the initiative to stand out amongst their peers, and have achieved just that with nothing but a single song. Hold on tight ladies and gentlemen, because these Philly pop-punkers just might explode.