‘Came Out Swinging’ is perhaps the perfect opening to The Wonder Years‘ third full-length studio album. It details the trials and tribulations that Soupy and co. have had to endure since their inception back in 2005. Its bittersweet melody tells a sad tale of how the hardships of touring with a punk bad, but the uplifting verse towards the end, “I came out swinging from a South Philly basement” signals better things to come. Choosing to end the song with “I spent the Winter writing songs about getting better, and if I’m being honest I’m getting there” is a bold statement, and it follows on nicely from their sophomore record, ‘The Upsides’.
Getting better is exactly what the band is doing, as with every release they appear to step it up one more notch and giving the album a proper, thorough listen, it’s clear how far they have come from their jokey, synth heavy “popcore” sound on 2007’s ‘Get Stoked On It’. On this record, they have gone back to their roots with a sound that is more focused around gritty, down tuned riffs with huge choruses giving the lyrics a bittersweet feel to them. Dan Campbell‘s vocals have also vastly improved, whilst on previous releases they may have seem somewhat whiney, whilst this still remains in places, songs like ‘Local Man Ruins Everything’ and ‘Coffee Eyes’ show how much his vocal range has actually improved.
Gang vocals that are reminiscent of New Found Glory also feature heavily on the album on songs like ‘Hoodie Weather’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Cave In’, which are guaranteed to be electric within a live setting. Whilst some of the songs do sound a little scruffy, like the short ‘You Made Me Want To Be A Saint’, they are ultimately intended for small, sweaty basement shows, and when listening to this album that is one thing that must be taken into consideration.
This record is nothing more than a natural progression for one of the scene’s most promising bands, and it is an impressive listen combining all the best elements from the best pop-punk bands around right now. Well worth a butchers if you’ve been foolishly unaware up until now.
Written by Oliver Thompson