Friday, 4 September 2015

The Wonder Years - No Closer To Heaven

4th September 2015

This sextet band from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania may have only released The Greatest Generation two years ago, but it has felt like an eternity waiting to find out what else was in store for the fans; and The Wonder Years have not disappointed with No Closer to Heaven. The album starts off with the calm "Brother &," gradually building up before linking into "Cardinals," which quickly sets off the album with The Wonder Years usual pent up, pop-punk rage, brilliantly balanced with background gang vocals. Next up, we move on to the much calmer "A Song For Patsy Cline" harking back to the classic "I've Given You All" (from 2011's Suburbia I've Given You All And Now I'm Nothing), except with more fire injected into it courtesy of electric guitars and heavy drum beats. We burst back in to classic, high speed pop-punk with "I Don't Like Who I Was Then" as we witness the full range of Dan 'Soupy' Campbell's incredible vocal talents, as Campbell shouts his way through a chorus of 'If I can manage not to fuck this up,' before the album takes a short break with a much more serene feel provided by "Cigarettes & Saints." The words 'Put out the light' now come blaring out of the stereo as we get another dose of untreated pop-punk genius as "The Bluest Things On Earth" once again leaves us astounded with how much energy The Wonder Years can put through just one track, with amazing lyrics that could have easily been turned into an acoustic song instead. We are next treated to choir harmonics to kick start "A Song For Ernest Hemingway" into life with typical The Wonder Years variation throughout, ranging from harsh to soft stages, with well placed place gang vocals also making appearances. No Closer to Heaven continues relentlessly with "Thanks For The Ride," a beautifully written tribute to a friend of the band who sadly passed on after a car crash, and it is delivered perfectly, bringing comfort to anyone who has been in a similar situation. "Stained Glass Ceilings" is one of those tracks that could be placed anywhere on an album, and it would just feel right. It builds up seamlessly well, beginning soft and slow, but then the pace picks up, and we are brought into a heavier middle section, whilst still maintaining a sincere lyrical structure, before reaching the closing stages, with a contribution of more aggressive vocals adding a touch of hardcore to the record. We have moved back into pop-punk territory with "I Wanted So Badly To Be Brave" with its rapid guitar sections, even more lyrics to emotionally move you, a well positioned tranquil section, before a build up of palm-muted chords leading up to the climactic ending. As if our heart strings have not been tugged at enough already though, we now move into "You In January" which could be considered  somewhat of a love song in The Wonder Years fashion as Campbell proclaims 'you were the one thing I got right.' After this, we are now into the final stages of this magnificent record, and there is a sense of leaving the best until the last with "Palm Reader" which comes across heavier than usual for a pop-punk act. Once again, the lyrics and vocals are superb along with the rest of the album, however, the guitar pieces throughout this track add an unprecedented amount of weight, pushing it forward, possibly making it the best song on the whole album (if not, certainly in the top three). Of course, it would not be a The Wonder Years record if there was not a full acoustic song, and closing track "No Closer To Heaven" does not disappoint on this tradition, rounding off the album with a sheer touch of class. No Closer to Heaven is a real contender, in my opinion, for album of the year so far. It has everything you could ask for, and The Wonder Years have truly out done themselves once again. The bluest things on Earth may not know sh*t about the blues, but The Wonder Years certainly know a thing or two about making an exceptional album.
Tracks to check out:
- "Cardinals"
- "The Bluest Things On Earth"
- "Palm Reader"

Sam Muckley

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