A horrible hack

the Wonder Years

the Upsides

Year Released: 2010
Format: CD
Label: No Sleep
 
Reviewed by Tom Howells on Aug 25, 2010
God knows why it’s taken me so long to write this review because it’s, y’know, The Wonder Years. Generic fourth-wave pop-punk is a no-brainer, right? Sort of, in this case. The Upsides certainly appears to be an identikit companion to the throngs of Decaydence/Hopeless-sequestered pop types out there, but dammit if they haven’t improved a mite since their woeful first record and the split with All Or Nothing. Key criticisms bear up with what Malcolm stated first time round, amongst other things; whiny vocals, tough bro-shouts which are actually expoundings of cringing mid-to-late twenties nostalgia, a few more hardcore-endebted musical bits, a singular horrible, HORRIBLE ukulele ditty, ink’n’beards, disgustingly smug cover art etc. But there’s just something that keeps inexplicably drawing me back. Most of the songs on The Upsides are terribly, terribly catchy, for better or for worse. There are some excellent, surprisingly subtle lead lines—most notably in ‘My Last Semester’ and ‘This Party Sucks’—which lend a few of the better songs a bit of fist-pumping potential. Musically, this is perfectly solid—even despite the chugging Four Year Strong guitars that rear up every now and then—with ace drumming for the most part. Most of the tracks are kept pretty speedy, so anything that does grate is over before it gets too much. Too cleanly produced by far, if they’d gone a little more lo- fi it may well have warranted the Latterman comparisons on the press release, and, on that note, I’d rather listen to No Matter Where We Go…! over this any day. In short, it’s modern pop-punk which isn’t as hideous as you’d expect, thus surprisingly ok.

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