Back in 2013 The Wonder Years released the best ‘pop punk’ album of the decade so far. It was catchy and belting from start to finish and touched the hearts of everyone who gave it 50 minutes of their day. But it was a conclusion, the end of the band’s trilogy of albums about growing up. Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell is all grown up now which lead to the question of where the band would go with ‘No Closer To Heaven’.
The album is a musical development from ‘The Greatest Generation’. The quieter songs are more intricately put together, with ‘Cigarettes & Saints’ offering a mid-album epic which will rival ‘I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral’ for emotional weight, but also mirrors it in the way the song progresses throughout. Perhaps though the area where this album excels most is with the lyricism, but further than that the vocal delivery. It’s hard to believe that Campbell had writers block for several months prior to the recording of this album – the urgency running through his vocals, and the sheer quantity of what he says… He has a lot to say and he needs you to hear it within these 50 minutes.
Campbell takes you on a journey towards finding his heaven. It’s a harrowingly intimate display of his innermost feelings, dealing with his own personal grief and tragedy and yet still with the utmost desire to get better. The album also features the bands first out and out love song in ‘You In January’ and this is perfectly positioned towards the end of the record to help portray positivity after all the lows. Things do get better.
The albums high point comes on ‘Stained Glass Ceilings’ which is both one of the softest and heaviest offerings from the band to date. Opening lightly it is an analysis of modern America, describing how people are offered opportunities to do whatever they want, offered opportunities to get to heaven, but they’ll never get there because of the glass ceiling which is extended in front of them. Exploding to a crescendo of guitars and drums Jason Aalon Butler ( of letlive.) jumps in and screams venom with Campbell allowing the band to become the heaviest they’ve ever been for just a few minutes.
It’s hard to put into words how this album makes me feel. I certainly feel it’s going to be album of the year, but this is so much more than that. The Wonder Years have taken a journey and made it out the other side. They may be no closer to heaven but they’re a great deal closer to a lot of people’s hearts. This is certainly their best piece of work to date and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
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