I first stumbled onto The Wonder Years back in 2008 with their debut album, Get Stoked on it. While it wasn’t bad, it didn’t quite with me. Becuse no one I knew listened to the band I forgot all about them and continued on with my life. So you can imagine my shock when years later I see them co-headlining with The Early November to a crowd that may have been there more for them than for any other band on the bill. As it turned out, they’d released two more albums since I first heard them and it wasn’t long before a third came out, The Greatest Generation.
This album is the ending of a trilogy about growing up and all the things that come with it. There are the familiar themes and characters that appear on this record that mark its connection to its predecessors (religion, friends, depression, the suburbs, etc.) and even references to older songs catalogue yet there’s a deeper level maturity present on this album that’s new. This is the Wonder Years at their best musically, lyrically, etc. “I Just Want to Sell Out My Funeral” is a perfect example.
Part of what intrigues me about The Wonder Years is the vulnerability of their songwriting. Their lyrics are self-depreciating if not self-deprecating (i.e. “Passing Through a Screen Door”, “Devil in my Bloodstream”) and it has created space for an incredibly loyal fan base . But also, Campbell’s degree in secondary English education shows. Whereas their third album, Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, was a play off of Allen Ginsberg’s poem, The Greatest Generation is a reference to Tom Brokaw. But instead of it solely being used to describe the children who grew up in the Great Depression and World War II, it’s also symbolizes the war Campbell has been fighting for years with his own self.
I’m challenged by this album’s honesty as well as the level of thought that’s gone into fabric. It’s textured both lyrically and musically, which creates for an amazing end to a solid trilogy.