There was a post on Twitter recently that said something like: there are two types of pop-punk music, 1) “Everything is ruined and it is all your fault” and 2) “Everything is ruined and it is all my fault” and that the new album by The Wonder Years is a solid showing of the latter. As I listened through The Hum Goes on Forever over the last few days, I can’t help but feel like it is a solid summary of the record.
Despite never quite reaching the level of success of some of their contemporaries on a national level, The Wonder Years have withstood the ebbs and flows of the pop-punk/emo cycle of popularity and have steadily released albums since 2005, without the seemingly inevitable series of breakups/hiatuses and reunion tours that have plagued others.
As a result, their latest release feels cohesive and genuine, rather than relying on nostalgia for success. That’s not to say that they don’t depend on some of the hallmarks of the genre; there’s a tremendous amount of angst, songs about the band’s hometown, and power chords going on, but there’s also a sense that the band is maturing along with its fan base as it ages.
Maybe the best example of this lyrically is in the pair of songs about lead singer Dan Campbell’s kids — Wyatt’s Song (Your Name) and You’re the Reason I Don’t Want the World to End. Both are sweet and heartfelt and explore the apprehension Campbell feels about being a good dad and ensuring his kids have the best life possible, a sentiment that certainly will resonate with the Elder Emo fan base.
There are still a fair bit of standard angsty musings to be had, though. The album’s first track, Doors I Painted Shut, starts with the line “I don’t wanna die, at least not without you,” which is certainly an assertive way to set the tone for the record.
One standout track on the album, Low Tide, is brimming with the types of vaguely depressing metaphor that is emblematic of the genre. The first verse ends with Campbell proclaiming that he’s “reading up on black holes, hoping one might take me in.” This space theme carries through the song, eventually wrapping up in the bridge with the lines “I’m exploding on re-entry/Scattered wreckage in the sea.” It is hard to get much more emo than that.
The two singles released from the album so far — Oldest Daughter and Summer Clothes — show the band’s ability to pull together both upbeat, catchy melodies and true ballads. Summer Clothes, in particular, plays into the genre trope of wistful reflection on summer’s end, but does so in a satisfying way that doesn’t feel played-out or overdone.
Maybe the most surprising song on the album from a musical perspective is Songs About Death. It has a heavier feel than the others with more driving guitars and stronger bass elements and is a little reminiscent of something that might have been a mid-2000s song by Brand New.
Overall, The Wonder Years’ 7th album brings the right balance of melancholy about the past and hope for the future to please both emo and pop-punk fans and does so in a way that doesn’t feel like its pandering or trying to hard.
The Hum Goes on Forever is available from Hopeless Records and on all major streaming services.