I didn’t really know what to expect when The Wonder Years’ album The Upsides wound up in my inbox. For one thing, my only exposure to the band had been on the Kid Dynamite tribute record, “Carry the Torch,” in which they did a passable cover of “Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems.”
The Upsides, which features a Jason Segel-look-alike wearing an Urban Outfitters plaid shirt, was sure to spark some ire, right?
Surprisingly, The Wonder Years are a pretty likeable band. The album starts off with “My Last Semester,” a fuck-you-suburbia anthem that lightly treads on sociopolitical ground by criticizing homophobia. “It’s Never Sunny In South Philadelphia” is another narrative that dabbles in suburban depression and houses the genius line, “I don’t think I love anything that way that some people love Morrissey.”
For kids who consider New Found Glory or Alkaline Trio “old school” bands, The Wonder Years are the perfect mix of teenage angst and powerpop sheen (thanks in part to stellar production by Zolof The Rock And Roll Destroyer guitarist, Vince Ratti). Well thought-out lyrics, the cornerstone of being a teen punk, are all over The Upsides, so the band will no doubt have a shelf life longer than some of their disingenuous peers.