Overall Score: 8/10 Songs: 7/10 Production: 8/10 Replay Value: 7/10 Pros: Awesome distorted guitars with a heartfelt vocal delivery and contrasting themes of emotion. Cons: Occasionally feels like it's treading over old ground.
THE WONDER YEARS are well known for their thoughtful yet melancholic take with their lyricism emanating from the heart, but managing to tread that fine line of not being too corny. They resonate with their audience as main songwriter Dan Campbell often finds a way to be simple and relatable in his delivery. Back in 2013 they released The Greatest Generation which was always going to be difficult for the band to top within their genre. So it would seem they decided to mix up their sound slightly shifting away from pop-punk which is perhaps appropriate as the members are now adults with families of there own.
On this release the band can be seen to take a serialised approach to songwriting as Campbell‘s characters appear as reflection of different stages of his life. He first started writing about what he wanted and experienced: discussing ex girlfriends, his college dropout friends, and locations in Philadelphia.
The Hum Goes On Forever delves into a new character the father who thinks of his son, Wyatt, who would seem to be the main driving force behind the album. For example in Cardinals II we hear a haunting guitar whaling out as we are presented with this image of tiny gloves tucked into Campbell’s winter coat that are a “reminder that I’m not alone”. Then it really hits home this theme with Wyatt’s Song (Your Name), which measures his son in heartbeats, in first words, in breaths while he’s sleeping. As with so many of THE WONDER YEARS’ top songs, it is full to the brim with specific details and such relatable emotions both in the delivery and content.
There are some interesting call-backs such as Colleen, who skipped town on 2011’s Coffee Eyes and though the years have passed it still weighs heavy on The Paris Of Nowhere. It feels like a love letter to Philadelphia despite its imperfections. The Eagles won their first Super Bowl after THE WONDER YEARS finished recording 2018’s Sister Cities, and Campbell nostalgicly recalls this withSt. Nick Foles. There’s Madelyn, a dark, brooding companion on The Greatest Generation who now appears increasingly itinerant on Oldest Daughter. She’s sleeping in public libraries while Campbell is out in the suburbs. He wants to send her a birthday gift and pictures of his children, but she doesn’t have a permanent address. When Campbell calls back to a line from that album; “We both know how this ends”, it truly represents the difference between who he was in 2013 and who he has become.
Perhaps there is a sense of treading over old ground with references to previous tracks that are already reflections of the past. Though it seems that these moments still resonate with Campbell holding tight to these pivotal experiences, it also can be fun to occasionally listen and experience your own introspection.
The theme of most albums by THE WONDER YEARS may at first hinge on loss and regret but out of that comes moments of hope and experience of joy in the little things in life. The Hum Goes On Forever once again delivers this sense as they constantly deliver ever changing and progressing in their sound with a catalogue full of pop-punk, emo and alt-rock. Though we would say there is a slight dip from previous releases, it far from disappoints as it still has moments full of sorrow which contrast with the glints of light illuminating the darkest moments with Campbell‘s son bringing happiness into his world. This album continues to show that THE WONDER YEARS are currently one of the best bands of their genre.
The Hum Goes On Forever is available now via Hopeless Records.
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