Album Review: The Wonder Year’s “No Closer to Heaven”

Jessica Pellegrino – General Assignment Reporter

Pop punk has taken a 180 since the days of Sum 41 and Blink 182. It seems like more and more pop punk bands find their way into the mainstream.

On Sept. 4, 2015, Pennsylvania pop-punk band the Wonder Years released their highly anticipated fifth studio album.

The band spent the last half a decade making music to feed the demand after their rise to fame in the pop punk circuit with “Suburbia I’ve Given You All,” “The Greatest Generation” and now “No Closer to Heaven.”

This album comes as a follow up album to “The Greatest Generation” which garnered acclaim, attention and a new fan base for the band. I mean, the album was too good, in the way that you can’t ever imagine the follow up album living up to it. “The Greatest Generation” was blunt, close to home and utterly beautiful. It almost set No Closer to Heaven up for failure. But I was surprisingly impressed.

One of the most honest and appreciated things about the Wonder Years are their candid and painful lyrics. These are the lyrics that address frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s battle with depression; a common trope in all of the band’s albums. The song “Cigarettes and Saints” is chock-full of these painfully honest and relatable lyrics.

Soupy writes, “I am sure there ain’t no heaven/But that don’t mean I don’t like to picture you there.” This is only one of the hard hitting one-liners that will undoubtedly be inked on fans’ bodies in the years to come. “Cigarettes and Saints” is dark and unapologetic with its monologues about death and what comes after.

The album shares themes with the band’s previous album, “The Greatest Generation.” All the songs are speckled with a sense of sadness and loneliness. But most notably, the album uses more instrumentals where they once would have just left dead space. In this album, the Wonder Years use three guitars in most songs, as well as an organ in some of the moodier, slow songs.

The opening song, “Brothers &,” is a quick instrumental introduction to the sound that can be recognized throughout the whole album. It ends with eerie gang vocals and the use of the aforementioned three guitar tracks.

“Stained Glass Ceiling” adopts Soupy’s typical speak-singing in the most beautiful way, but “I Wanted So Badly to be Brave” is the almost too typically The Wonder Years. It is a nice addition to the album, but it does not really agree with the new style the band picked up for this album.

I might never feel the way I felt about “The Greatest Generation” but I was in no way disappointed with “No Closer to Heaven.” The new album showcased Soupy’s English-degree-fueled lyrical genius, while exploring new instruments and new sounds. It is not as life-changing as the previous album, but it shares the same reliability that TWY fans craze from the band. If The Wonder Years continue to produce consistently quality albums like their last two, they have a bright and long future ahead of them musically.

Photo Credit: Carolina Londoño 


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