Fall Albums: The Wonder Years – Suburbia

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

It is official. The hours of sunlight are fading away earlier (unless you are in Arizona in which case stay happy). Places across the continent of North America have begun seeing blizzard like conditions. For those people turning to pop-punk to help cope with this massive weather change here is album two of my album write ups for this Fall. Last time I fell apart with Captain, We’re Sinking. To pick myself up I turn to The Wonder Years. People argue that they released the best pop-punk album of recent history with The Greatest Generation but I have always been a fan of Suburbia: I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing.

What is immediately intriguing about this record is how Soupy gave an insight into when he wrote the songs. The first track begins in the winter months while the lyrics span the timeframe of a year and comes full circle. When I first listened to this beast in 2011 it clicked with me. The only flaw I had was the lack of closure in the last track ‘And Now I’m Nothing.’ It took me years to realize just how beautifully written this album was. Not only in the personable stories but also how the moods weave with the instrumentation. 

There is a bit of aggravating anxiety of trying to find yourself in the first four tracks. This one time I was heading back home to where my family was and where I grew up and I was blasting this album because well, it gave my feelings something to unleash with. I do not want to spend any time picking apart lyrics or making obvious references because it’s not about my life, it’s about the mindset. It is always a weird feeling heading home for a break and a lifetime of memories flash in front of you. Memories like getting into sticky situations staying out late with your friends. Finding a place to vent out frustration. That was the past and now it feels dead.

And these moods are weighed in with the music. The defeat and frustration of ‘I Won’t Say The Lords Prayer,’ or the introspective reflections of ‘Hoodie Weather.’ The frantic panicking of ‘Don’t Let Me Cave In’ or capturing the feeling of victory with ‘Summers in PA.’ The intertwined metaphor of Allen Ginsburg’s poem ‘America’ just makes looking in the details even more fun. The three songs named after the first line of the poem are all in 3/4 timing. They act as fillers for the rest of the album. 

If The Upsides was about growing up, this album was about trying to find that balance of reminiscence and action. Growing up in the city was fucking hard at times. Transitioning into bigger things adds even more fear and worry. When the Soupy calls out “We’re a city left digging out cars in unison and humming like we’ve healed. I know we’ve got miles to go but I’m putting my shoulder to the wheel,” it doesn’t just end there. It’s cyclical. The song goes into a beautiful closing melody that fades out. And then a year later when you’re driving on I-76 about ready to reach the outskirts of the place you grew up it starts over again. That’s what is so beautiful about the way Suburbia was written. It is meant to be played over and over again whenever those feelings strike, at least for me it is.

– Sean