The Wonder Years

Published on April 27th, 2018

The Wonder Years | Jonathan Weiner

In the idylls of Americana, “The Wonder Years” represented a prime-time distillation of the baby-boomer experience. The six-season saga, 1988-1993, was a bildungsroman of the young protagonist’s trials and tribulations through the turbulent ’60s, the socio-political climate of the Vietnam War, family and school life, love, loss, etc. It was the best aspects of memory summarized and stylized for consumption.

The Wonder Years, a sextet out of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, in the North Penn Valley suburbs of Philadelphia, is in a lot of ways a packaged memory of pop punk. But where the TV show drew from deep wells of nostalgia, the band finds its strength, and its voice, by absorbing numerous offshoots of rock ’n’ roll in order to forge its path through the morass of its own era.

Formed in 2005 from the ashes of Lansdale’s The Premier, TWY is comprised of Dan “Soupy” Campbell on vocals, Matt Brasch and Casey Cavaliere on guitars, Mike Kennedy on drums, Josh Martin on bass and Nick Steinborn on keys and additional guitars. Veterans of numerous tours including a pair of high-profile Warped Tour engagements, the band is six full-length albums into its run.

The first was 2007’s “Get Stoked On It!,” a messy affair of musical amalgams. TWY buckled down for their next three releases, testing the reach of their influences while creating a more succinct and approachable body of music. After this exhaustive process, their fifth album, “No Closer to Heaven,” was a lauded concept album.

Think of their latest, “Sister Cities,” as the marquee feature built on relentless refinement of all the previous work. It’s a remarkably inspired effort that shows TWY flexing serious musical muscle beyond “pop” and more in the realm of melodic hardcore and post-rock — even with tinges of country.

As erudite as it is crunchy, it’s an album that takes all of the band’s prior lessons seriously — but not too seriously. In the early promotion of “Sister Cities,” 7-inch singles went out with an album track on the A-side and on the flip, a spoken-word poem.

The Wonder Years and Tiny Moving Parts perform May 12 at Revolution Live in Ft. Lauderdale. jointherevolution.net ~ Abel Folgar

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