This The Wonder Years article was written by Alia Smallwood Thomas, a GIGsoup contributor
2015 marks the 10 year anniversary of The Wonder Years, a band playing big in the pop-punk game. The band are made up of lead singer Dan “Soupy” Campbell, guitarists Matt Brasch, Casey Cavaliere and most recent addition Nick Steinborn (also on keys), along with Mike Kennedy on drums and Josh Martin on bass. As their 5th studio album, ‘No Closer To Heaven’ is a great record to mark this successful 10 year milestone and resurgence of the pop-punk scene.
After taking a break from the band to release and tour the first album for his solo project, Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, Campbell returned to focus on the next Wonder Years project but subsequently suffered a severe bout of depression due to a large case of writers block. However, out of this dark patch came the strong and emotive record that is ‘No Closer To Heaven,’ a concept piece based on the loss of loved ones.
Of course the death of a loved one is not easy to come to terms with for anyone and Campbell reflects well in his lyrics the heavy grief felt as well as the grieving process, reminiscing on the old days and wishing that things could have turned out differently. Throughout the album he also touches upon the state of depression, reflecting on aspects of what Campbell may have felt himself through his tough time.
The album starts off with ‘Brothers &,’ an anthemic intro to create the initial pace of the album and build up for the second song, ‘Cardinals,’ which launches right into the sound of The Wonder Years we know and love. We’re hit with the powerful vocals of Campbell, and some strong guitar and drum riffs in full essence of pop-punk. The Wonder Years produce another great hit with enough of the lighthearted feel of pop-punk contrasted with a harder edge, fitting of the respective tone of the album heard in such songs as ‘The Bluest Things On Earth’, ‘Cigarettes & Saints’, and ‘Stained Glass Ceilings.’ The latter being one of the strongest songs on the album, and is a little different from others. This song contains more political and religious connotations, and is suggestive of how people are held back by others from getting to where they want to be.
Campbell describes the subject of the song being grabbed at their ankles, “they won’t let you go”, and cutting their wings off, stopping them from getting into heaven and bringing them back down to Earth. Vocalist of Letlive – Jason Aalon Butler – also adds some strong vocals to the track. Butler coincidentally was one of the people to have helped Campbell through his phase of writers block. The title song of the album, last track on the listing, is a beautiful ending to this heartfelt record. The only acoustic song on the album, ‘No Closer To Heaven’ brings the tempo much farther down to a slow and melancholy end.
‘No Closer To Heaven’ is a musical roller coaster – go and enjoy the ride. ‘No Closer to Heaven’ is out now via Hopeless Records.