The Wonder Years: Sister Cities (Hopeless) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, May 24th, 2020  

The Wonder Years

Sister Cities


Jun 20, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

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Listen to Get Stoked On It! The Wonder Years' 2007 first record-an album frontman Dan 'Soupy' Campbell has called a "train wreck" and which he's regularly disinherited and written it off as a joke-and then to this sixth full-length, and you'd be hard-pressed to work out how the band that made the former ended up with something as majestic and sublime as the latter.

But fill the gaps in-notably with 2011's Suburbia, I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing, an anxiety-ridden but defiant album of existential dread heavily inspired by both real life and Allen Ginsberg's 1956 poem America, and 2015's musically and thematically ambitious No Closer to Heaven-and it's easy to see that these 11 songs are just another step in the Philadelphia six-piece's natural evolution.

Whether it's the dramatic tumble of opener "Raining in Kyoto," the tentative, tender acoustic musings of "Flowers Where Your Face Should Be," or the slow-burning but expansive closer "The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me"-a meandering rock song worthy of The Cure that flows with the weight of the universe on its shoulders and a deep, wretched and unshakeable sadness-Sister Cities is a remarkable record from a band who have never stopped growing up and into themselves. Both musically and lyrically, it's a remarkable tour de force, a record that shimmers with the hope and promise of a world not yet lost to the evil powers that control it, and of a heart that, despite bruises and breaks, refuses to stop beating.

There are layers aplenty to peel away here-not least the inherent isolation of the human condition, the development of the band from a juvenile pop-punk joke into a lyrically sophisticated and musically cerebral outfit, the damage and anxiety that comes with spending your life on the road away from the people you love-but even without probing that deeply it's clear that this is a phenomenal album that not only transcends genres but which also only feels like the next phase of a career already 13 years short that has a long and exciting future ahead. (

Author rating: 8.5/10

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