Release Date: September 23, 2022
Genre: Alternative Rock, Pop Punk
Label: Hopeless Records
Lansdale, Philadelphia-based pop punk/alternative rock outfit The Wonder Years are back with their latest offering and seventh studio album, The Hum That Goes On Forever. The band's forthcoming album drops later this week on September 23, via their longtime label, Hopeless Records. The band consists of vocalist Dan Campbell, guitarist Matt Brasch, guitarist Casey Cavaliere, drummer Mike Kennedy, bassist Josh Martin, and keyboardist Nick Steinborn. The Hum That Goes On Forever was produced with the help of two major names in the scene Will Yip (Movements, Tigers Jaw, Circa Survive) and Steve Evetts (Saves the Day, Story of the Year, Every Time I Die). The sextet wrote most of the album's songs in a farmhouse in the middle of Pennsylvania during the winter of 2021. Before COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, the band's members quarantined themselves for two weeks first. Once the band's members got vaccinated, they got back together in March through May of the same year, then later tracked the album the following month in June. Originally, The Hum That Goes On Forever was intended to be an EP, with that set of songs produced by Will Yip, but as the process continued on, the band decided the songs would be under-served on an EP, leading the band back into the studio with the familiar name Steve Evetts -who produced The Wonder Year's Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing (2011), The Greatest Generation (2013), and No Closer to Heaven (2015)- to fill in the gaps to create a full-length album. In classic fashion for The Wonder Years, vocalist Dan Campbell's lyrics on the entire album detail his personal experiences, life stories, and inner turmoil in great detail to paint even the most precise picture for listeners to experience what he depicts in the songs. The Hum That Goes On Forever begins with the poignant number "Doors I Painted Shut." Detailing a low in Campbell's life in late 2019, after years of tackling his battle with depression head-on, that then spun him directly into a pandemic to make things worse for him. Additionally, The Hum That Goes On Forever is the band's first album since Campbell had children, and the album addresses his children throughout the record in various aspects. The recurring line of "I don't want to die" is a constant of the new album. It reflects his mental health, the pandemic, and the need to be there for his children.
"Wyatt's Song (Your Name)" is a track that details how his son Wyatt has impacted Campbell's life and his thoughts on raising children in an estranged world that feels like it's actively ending, and no matter what, trying to make sure to make them feel safe and cared for. Musically, it has that upbeat, pop-punk cross-over with alternative rock style that only The Wonder Years can pull off. "Oldest Daughter" is a heartfelt piece that features a callback to The Greatest Generation's "Madelyn" and can be seen as a sequel or continuation to "Madelyn." The track is about realizing that you can't save everyone. There are people in your life that you love, and no matter what you want to do to help them, they will destroy themselves anyways. "Cardinals II," a direct sequel to No Closer to Heaven's "Cardinals," has The Wonder Years deliver an emotionally driven, piteous, striking -I can keep going with descriptive words. It's a musical piece that doesn't need an explanation of the story as "Cardinals" also did. Continuing with callbacks to their past songs, presumably, the same "Justin" who was mentioned on The Upside's track "All My Friends Are In Bar Bands" is referenced on "Summer Clothes," the sombre-sounding, acoustic guitar-driven tune. "Summer Clothes" is a love letter to a time in Campbell's life when his sadness was at its most conspicuous by its momentary absence when the low hum quieted enough to realize it was nearly gone when he could do stupid, dangerous stuff just because he could. A few tracks later, we get to "Songs About Death." This particular track is one of The Wonder Year's most heavy tracks ever written. When Campbell is singing, the music is slow, and the track feels quite grim, but the instrumental portions of "Songs About Death" are powerful and heavy. Driven by in-your-face and immensely distorted and down-tuned guitar riffs, the song blurs lines into a more post-hardcore world.
Being another "pandemic album," all these tracks deal with it in various ways. The clearest is "Low Tide." It's Campbell's "pandemic depression song," if you will. Sonically, it fits anywhere where on some of their earliest albums. It's a track about searching for some type of normalcy through the small, newly formed rituals of being stuck at home and the uncertainties and anxieties of if you'll ever get to do the things you love again, and for Campbell, that was live music. The album's latest single, "Old Friends Like Lost Teeth," is a song for another friend of Campbell's who passed too soon and how he wished he could stop himself from opening up the stitches. It's also about how he knows how painful it will be to play live and how powerless he is to do anything else. The bridge on "Old Friends Like Lost Teeth" features all the backing vocalists of the band having their own spotlight.
If you've been a fan of The Wonder Years over the years, you know their albums typically close out with that track. If you're unfamiliar with The Wonder Years, the band always tends to close out their albums with a massive song that ties all the previous songs together. Once again, the sextet closes The Hum That Goes On Forever out with "You're the Reason I Don't Want the World to End." The epic album-closing track circles back mostly to "Doors I Painted Shut" and how Campbell doesn't want to die so he can protect his children from all possible dangers this cruel world may put in front of them. The Hum That Goes On Forever showcases The Wonder Year's relatable and unmatched songwriting from everyone in the band. Campbell's lyrics are the boldest and most transparent as ever as he details his growth as a person and becoming a father. The band's sound is also the most daring yet -compared to their previous six records and their handful of EPs. The band's constantly pushing their sound with every release -even if it's the smallest detail in change. The Hum That Goes On Forever sees the band blend the past and present into a collective set of songs, both lyrically and sonically. It has a little bit of every era of The Wonder Years, with callbacks to fan favourites that will be certain to create a buzz among fans. If you loved their pop-punk records, or you only liked their alternative rock records, the band has come to satisfy listeners from all over the last seventeen years, and it's a nice balance of the two. Be sure to pre-save or preorder the album here.