Review: The Wonder Years, Sister Cities

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Sister Cities

7.4 out of 10

Hopeless Records

 

 

 

Best Track: The Ghosts of Right Now
Worst Track: The Orange Grove

Sister Cities is the sixth album from American rock/pop-punk band The Wonder Years, and marks a stylistic shift towards a slightly more adventurous and mature alternative sound. The album opens suddenly with “Raining In Kyoto” a heart-wrenching lament to vocalist Dan Campbell’s late grandfather that flows from galloping verses to an explosive refrain. This introduction is a significant departure from the band’s typical slow burning openers, indicating to me that The Wonder Years would be experimenting more boldly on Sister Cities. This is exemplified in the brooding synths at the beginning of “Pyramids of Salt” or the drum machine on “We Look Like Lightning”; a track that asks a morbidly unique question I have often wondered myself… What song do you want to die to?

I felt pretty mild towards The Wonder Years’ previous album No Closer To Heaven, as I didn’t find the performances to be as emotional or urgent as the band’s previous material. In contrast to NCTH, I find that Sister Cities displays significant emotional potency – look no further than the climactic ending of “It Must Get Lonely” or the glistening love song “Flowers Where Your Face Should Be” for proof of this. Even though these tracks are far from the liveliest, they still have a good sense of direction and momentum. I particularly love the sheer kinetic energy in “The Ghosts of Right Now”, and the theatrical, organ-layered bridge of this song that almost reminds me of Black Parade era My Chemical Romance.

I was disappointed with the ending of Sister Cities, as it feels like an underwhelming copy of my favorite Wonder Years album, The Greatest Generation. “The Orange Grove” is the mild penultimate banger, and while I enjoy the progression of “The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me”, it is no where near as conclusive or grand a closer as “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral”. Sister Cities is a step in the right direction for The Wonder Years though and I am glad to see they are unafraid to step outside of their sonic comfort zone.

REVIEWED BY: JAMES LIAM WARD