The set, which was released on April 6 through The KSR Group/Atlantic Records, earned 255,000 equivalent album units in the week ending April 12, according to Nielsen Music. That’s the second-biggest week of 2018, trailing only the arrival of Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods, which bowed with 293,000 units on the Feb. 17-dated chart.
If you were to describe the course of The Wonder Years’ decade-plus career, you may find the word “growth” as the most fitting. The band’s breakthrough trilogy of albums (2010’s The Upsides, 2011’s Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, and 2013’s The Greatest Generation) were all about growing up. Each release addressed various stages of getting older all while the band continually got better as musicians and songwriters. Which is why 2015’s No Closer To Heaven felt like such an aberration. Instead of taking the leaps that the prior three albums did, No Closer To Heaven sounded like a lateral move, an album unsure of which version of the band it wanted to be. It resulted in some half-baked, rushed ideas and were the pressure of “what’s next” might have gotten to vocalist Dan Campbell and his bandmates. That’s not to say that Heaven doesn’t feature some of the band’s best work ever (“Cigarettes and Saints”, “The Bluest Things on Earth”, and “Stained Glass Ceilings” are peak Wonder Years), but it was frustrating that the band didn’t fully dive in. Yet it’s that past frustration that makes the band’s incredible new album, Sister Cities, feel so rewarding and refreshing.
This list is for little more than my own amusement, but I hope that some TWY fan out there takes a look at this and stumbles upon an Actual B-Side or Bonus Track that they never knew existed, and they turn out to love it. The fun thing, too, about Rare Songs, is that they aren’t just for die-hard fans anymore. Back in The Olde Days, you could only find these tracks if you were super-concerned with tracking down every shred of a band’s catalog; the Internet has made it much easier to find this stuff now, to the point where seeing any of these songs played at a Wonder Years show, regardless of when they were released, will usually result in most of the crowd being able to sing along.