Take a look around. What do you see?
Half-eaten bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Check.
Nunchucks hanging on wall (you know, just in case)? Check.
Telescope facing hot co-eds. Triple check (they’re blondes!).
A general air of debauchery and laziness? Check**
Well then, you’re an idiot. Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t take that as a put-down. You have not been forgotten this time. You can finally dive into the cesspool of discarded expectations and “you had to be there” stories with a sufficiently boisterous soundtrack. For The Wonder Years have created Get Stoked On It! And Ted saw all that he had influenced, and that it was very good. He tried to tell Bill, but Bill had fallen asleep in the phone booth and was transported back to feudal Japan. Moving on.
The Wonder Years’ sound is very popular right now. Hardcore-influenced pop-punk seems to draw some very distinct battle lines. This is strange to me, especially in reference to a fun-loving record like Get Stoked On It! The Wonder Years could care less about revolutionizing music or what color your New Era hat may be. They just want to know what the hell a land pirate is. And unlike some of their peers, The Wonder Years are a bit more on the pop side of things. Main vocalist, Soupy Campbell, sounds like a mix between Kenny Vasoli (especially on “We Were Giants”) and Jordan Brown (Set Your Goals). His clean vocals are strong, as can be heard on the majority of “What If We [Swam] Into Nothing?,” but when the song gets heavy towards the end, he has no problem leading the gang.
“Let’s Moshcercise!!!” begins with an extended intro complete with zinging synths and sparse, chugging guitars. The whole thing sounds like a Motion City Soundtrack song if they stepped away from the PS3 once in a while. When Campbell comes in and gives his own special workout plan (“We say, yo, lets turn up the bass! / Today, we’ll mosh the pounds away!”), I immediately wish I knew him. Get Stoked On It! has impressed me with a considerable attention to detail. The vocal production sounds clear and rings true (see: “Keystone State Dude-Core”), there is an acoustic foray into apathy (“Racing Trains”) and the lyrics are always fantastic. Fans of the band will recognize “My Geraldine Lies Over The Delaware” from a split with Bangarang!, and the track sort of sticks out. Not in a bad way though, as it is possibly the most diverse song on Get Stoked On It! The track begins with a boinging bass line and semi-screams until the synth-filled chorus comes in and sets up for the most satisfying moment thus far. A HUGE gang chorus screams over a drastically slowed tempo, “And we’ll leave tonight / If you’re OK to drive. / We’ll leave this place behind / Thank God we don’t live here all the time!”
The Wonder Years have it. They blend genres without playing favorites and are poised to win scores of new fans with Get Stoked On It! “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong” confronts the slacker generation in a language they can understand: “I got these friends, that hate their fucking lives / I guess that’s what inactivity does to the mind / So I stay busy day and night / I don’t have time to complain.” Amongst all the pop culture jokes and catchy breakdowns, there is a message here. Maybe that’s why I like The Wonder Years so much. Their ability to cut down the “plight” of the middle class (har dee har har) with self-consciousness and humor speaks volumes to me. These guys have crafted an intelligent and exhilarating ride through growing up. As the song fades out and The Wonder Years scream, “We know that everything is going to be OK,” I’m inclined to believe them. That’s more than I can say about most of the authority figures in my life (I’m sooooo misunderstood). And whether you think this sound is already stale or not, The Wonder Years are a wonderful addition to any music fan’s library (who are you kidding?).
**Equal chance of being dirty laundry