The first song off of The Wonder Years’ upcoming LP The Greatest Generation was officially released on AbsolutePunk at 3:00 EST today. Though the site unfortunately crashed right before the official announcement, they uploaded it to their Soundcloud page, and MEB is here to give you our thoughts.
“Passing Through a Screen Door,” the second of thirteen brand new tracks the band will release on May 14th, will only leave Wonder Years fans wanting more. Fresh off the heels of their climactic, sentimental look at the new album via a trailer through Youtube, the band has remained as poignant as ever. For the new single, they apply the optimistic outlook of The Upsides, yet still combine it with the maturity-driven lyricism that inhabited Suburbia: I’ve Given You All & Now I’m Nothing. Given what the sextet has provided in the first single, there’s no doubt in my mind: this is one of the best songs they’ve ever released.
Lead singer Dan Campbell holds true to the high expectations set by this release. He continues to strike a happy balance between personal events and a wide appeal that his fans can relate to. The verses are where we see some of Campbell’s best lyricism to date: “cigarette smoke dances back in the window / and I can see the haze on the dome light / I’m conjuring ghosts on a forty hour ride home / and they keep asking me what I’m doing with my life”. It’s also great to see him continuing to reference his previous work (“The highway won / I’m listening to traffic reports, one on one”), as well as dedicating an entire verse to his insight on future endeavors. The single sets the tone for the forthcoming themes from The Greatest Generation…that it’ll be a record about growing up and closing the gap on the trilogy the band has created. It’s moments like these that make the alternative community happy that there’s lyricism as solid as Campbell’s out there.
Musically, the song is a noticeable progression from Suburbia. For “Screen Door,” the combination of key and tempo allows it to fall somewhere between The Upsides’ “Hostels & Brothels” and Suburbia’s “Local Man Ruins Everything.” The band does an excellent job of constructing the song so it builds and falls perfectly. Some of the highlights on the track are Matt Brasch’s consecutive melodies on the chorus, as well as the appropriately calming bridge that is one of the best the band has produced to date. Production-wise, this is a noticeable step up from their previous material, as it shows how much the band can improve in just three years’ time. It sets my expectations high for both how the rest of the album will sound, and how the tracks will coalesce into each other.
When talking with Soupy back in mid-March, I could hear a noticeable nervousness in his voice about how his fans would perceive the music. After arguing a lot over which track should be released first, “Screen Door” was eventually chosen to be the first single by the band. If you ask me, Soupy and company couldn’t have picked a better song to lead off with. It shows a perfect progression from Suburbia, yet still highlights a lot of the elements that made the record great. Overall, “Passing Through a Screen Door” brilliantly defines where The Wonder Years are currently at in their music-making career. It may be a few weeks before we get to hear more music from them, but regardless of the wait, their fan base knows that it will be well worth their time.