The Wonder Years – ‘The Hum Goes On Forever’

By Aaron Jackson

It’s not quite as simple as calling The Wonder Years a pop-punk band anymore, even if they did make their name that way. To many they remain as one of, if not the, greatest pop-punk outfit in the history of the genre. While their output in the early 2010s was definitive, they have since matured and wisened to the point where they’ve transcended the scene that they were once forefathers of. ‘The Hum Goes On Forever’ is the latest instalment from this legendary Lansdale sextet and marks their most complete and accomplished record to date.

From the off, frontman Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell declares “I don’t want to die” and in doing so introduces the overarching message of this album. The sentiment, albeit gloomy, is one of hope. Following shifts in perspectives and approaches to life since the birth of his first child, Soupy uses this album as a vehicle to explore what it means to live with “the hum”. He explains, “there’s always a low hum of sadness, a low rumbling of ennui. So ‘The Hum Goes On Forever’ is the understanding that I’m always going to have it, it’s always going to be there, it’s always been there for literal generations of my family and it’s important that I accept that and live and work through it.”

On the topic of fatherhood, ‘Wyatt’s Song (Your Name)’ is named after Soupy’s son and boasts a bouncing chorus that lingers long after the first listen; that longevity of this song alone makes it a fitting tribute. It’s easy to see why this song was elected as one of the singles dropped in the run-up to the album’s full release. Another standout track with a similarly upbeat dynamic is ‘Low Tide’. Again, the chorus has the trademark singalong quality that fans have come to love and expect from this band. One to experience live and, off the back of their landmark bumper Slam Dunk set, one can already see those aggressive pop-punk-finger-points perforating the hot, sweaty air of a medium-sized venue. Nature is healing.

The notion of pushing on, perpetually moving forward can also be read in the multiple callbacks to previous work in the band’s discography. The clearest example is ‘Cardinals II’ which sits as a direct sequel to ‘Cardinals’ from 2015’s impressive ‘No Closer To Heaven’ and builds on the story that was told on that album seven years ago. The significance is that, The Wonder Years favour building on foundations that were documented in the past, as opposed to letting these thoughts lie and rest in their historical state. This is not recycling material, but rather the evolution of art.

The album bows out with its thematic and sonic conspectus:

“I don’t want to die. I want to light you through your darker months. And I want to swallow the sun, before it can swallow us.”

It’s lyrics like these, delivered by Soupy at his magnificent sincerest, which crown ‘You’re The Reason I Don’t Want The World To End’ as the perfect track to cap off an album of this calibre.

Raw emotion and unfaltering passion are The Wonder Years’ DNA. It’s why, even after decades of hard graft, they continue to impress and improve release upon release. Naturally then, ‘The Hum Goes On Forever’, is no different and can stand proud as one of the most important records of 2022.

AARON JACKSON

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