The Wonder Years released their new album, Sister Cities on Apr. 6. It came just shy of three years since their last release. As The Wonder Years’ previous albums have been about youth and coming of age, this album feels like they’re all grown up. This album focuses more on distance and insecurity, and less on underdog anthems they’re known for. The record still blends pop-punk with ballad-like lyrics, but with more maturity. Heaven’s Gate (Sad & Sober) falls right in the middle of the album. The song plays as an homage to their past sound. Lyrics such as “And I got caught in the irony of walking alone/ Down an entire block that’s just funeral homes and the ground below” feel like a direct comparison to albums such as Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. The song is perfectly placed in the album, it almost acts as a relief that they’re still the same band people fell in love with. However, the album can feel a bit zagged at points. As the songs skip from familiar sounds that gained the band a fanbase to songs that are much more fresh to the band it can feel awkward. For instance, the jump from the first song, Raining in Kyoto, to the second song on the album, Pyramids of Salt. The transition feels unusual for the band. As Raining in Kyoto plays as an honor to the frontman’s grandfather. As Pyramids of Salt starts the sound drops to this self-criticizing song, which doesn’t feel right after the previous song. Pyramids of Salt does show the growth they’ve made as a band and as people though. The song starts slow and works its way up to a more powerful ballad like song. The song still holds the bands iconic tones of pain and longness, but in a way that feels like an adult’s life realization, not a teenagers. With songs like this it is easy to tell the band is trying to grow up with the audience they started with. The Wonder Years have been making music for the past 13 years and the album feels right. The audience is growing up and so should the sound of the band. The final song on the album, The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me solidifies the record as a whole. It delivers gut-wrenching lyrics and music reminiscent of their last record, No Closer to Heaven. With the final album lyrics as, “I learned to lean on the people who love me / When the sutures start to split / I trust in the current to pull you back in / I miss everyone at once / But most of all, I miss the ocean.” It shows the growth that comes with becoming an adult, learning to lean on those around you. Instead of being angry at God or the world the song shows learning to cope and find comfort in the things around you. Sister Cities was a good move for the band at the point they are at. They are able to bring in the heavy topics pop-punk is known for while also having fun songs that feel more uplifting in ways, such as Raining in Kyoto and Sister Cities, the song that shares a title with the album. The album mixes similar tones and topics with more adult narratives. The approach to their hardships feels more current and less angsty, leading The Wonder Years discography to grow with their audience.
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