The Wonder Years have battled with demons throughout their lives: depression, anxiety, feeling trapped in suburbia and society itself; although they say these battles are never really over. The Greatest Generation deals with the intriguing stories and ongoing battles after the initial war within us and others, a climactic and emotional ending to the trilogy of albums, started by The Upsides; and ending with this solid installment. Wave goodbye to The Wonder Years you thought you knew, this album is more personal, darker and harder than you would ever expect from the Pennsylvania poppunkers.
First track There, There screams anxiety with its grunge-esque intro with dampened guitars and whining vocals accentuated as soon as the crash of chords illuminates the tempo and spring the song to the usual exuberance shown by The Wonder Years. The shouts of Dan Campbell glimmering slightly at certain points within this song hit exactly the right note, exactly the spot your ears were hoping for. You can almost feel Campbell letting his demons go here through the power in his voice. Passing Through the Screen Door emulates exactly what the initials of the song suggest. From the lulling of the initial track, this song provides a visceral and angry edge, displaying different emotions; first defeat and the calm, now the storm. And boy what a storm. The song starts with raging guitars which go up and down like bipolar moods throughout, along with Campbell’s voice following suit on this powerful and climactic song.
Centrepiece of the record and personal favourite comes in the form of Devil in My Bloodstream, a slow ballad with soft, conquered vocals, accentuated by a saccharine sweet female counterpart is a moving, emotional ode building to a crushing, energetic yet mournful chorus. It’s effortlessly beautiful and heart-fluttering. Madelyn has a similar feel; it sounds slightly like it may have been recorded in a bathroom, but this adds to the homegrown, personal feel of it all. It’s reminiscent of playful song Hey Thanks showing The Wonder Years aren’t all that serious, they’re funny, easy-going guys too. The end of Devil in My Bloodstream barrels into Teenage Pants and Chaser both fast-paced songs with sneaking Taking Back Sunday and punk influences within the instrumentals, which also show the full extent of Campbell’s voice with falsetto interludes.
Closing track I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral is pretty much exactly what you’d expect of a seven minute track by The Wonder Years; it’s so pop punk it hurts. It’s full of gritty vocals, raw lyrics, crashing guitars, pounding drums and an underlying bass line carrying the song to its poignant climax.
I have followed this band for years, and from the bottom of my heart I can say; I am actually proud of them for this release. These are not the same guys who originally wrote “Get Stoked On It!” You can hear such an audible change in their sound – they have matured so much, gone through so many trials, and that’s what shapes such a solid and heart-breakingingly real release.