The Wonder Years play a polished brand of pop punk that’s ridiculously melodic, smart and über-produced. The vocalist flawlessly hits all the high notes. To me, they sound like their buddies in Title Fight, or a way-wimpier version of Make Do And Mend. That’s the review. Now comes the diatribe. I really do hate to bust on a band in such detail but, goddamn, do these guys make it easy for me. I am tired to death of this myopic, self-obsessed, whoa-is-me brand of music. I understand the desire to write about what you know, guys, but haven’t we culturally moved past writing songs about our friends “sexting” girls when the van breaks down on tour? Or how the ex-girlfriend’s lame? Or how playingvideo games make you depressed? It’s obvious this band is smart and can play the fuck out of their instruments. But for all of the potential here, all they manage to do is namedrop their friends in songs and talk about how they’re trying to be happy even though it’s raining outside. Spare me. Overall, The Upsides is probably an awesome album for junior high kids who feel like walking down the hallway at school can be like running a gauntlet. The adults among us should most likely steer clear. It’s rare when a band’s collective pissing and moaning can upset me this much, but this is the third review of The Upsides that I’ve written and, believe it or not, the least vitriolic. I’m frustrated because I can see how this band could potentially be really great—but I feel like they repeatedly blow it by lyrically musing on their fucking haircuts for thirteen songs.
–keith (No Sleep)