Philadelphia’s finest, The Wonder Years, always have a way of tugging on listeners’ heartstrings. Now, with their seventh studio album, The Hum Goes On Forever, the band wrote about parenthood and struggles with the current state of the world. The album shows immense amounts of growth and honesty. Many artists falter or give up by album seven, but for The Wonder Years this may be their strongest body of work yet. Although they started humbly as a pop punk basement band. The six Philadelphians are leaders amongst alternative rockers when it comes to storytelling through song. So, if you’re ready to both mosh and cry within 45 minutes, The Hum Goes On Forever may be the perfect listen for you.
One thing The Wonder Years fans have noticed over the years is the band’s dedication to the album format. Although many singles were released, The Hum Goes On Forever was carefully designed to be listened to from front to back. So, the album starts off with a bang with track “Doors I Painted Shut.” Opening lyrics, “I don’t want to die. At least not without you,” are telling of the album’s key theme. As the song shows, things haven’t been easy. Even those who have been working hard to overcome demons, the past few years have made many regress. However, there are some people worth sticking around for. It’s a sad, but touching album opener and is sure to draw in listeners from its relatability.
Next, we have “Wyatt’s Song (Your Name).” This track is for singer Dan “Soupy” Campbell‘s first born son. The track perfectly captures the many emotions associated with parenthood. The feels of love, but also being scared to mess up. As the band has grown, so has their audience. So, the events and moods of many of these songs resonate with the listeners who have stuck around and only grown stronger. The song is a beautiful tribute to Wyatt and not the only reference to him on the album.
Afterwards, there are two tracks in a row that make references to previous albums. “Oldest Daughter” references the character “Madelyn” from band’s The Greatest Generation album. This was the first single and it’s still as fiery as before within the context of the album. The song about a transient friend or family member shows that The Wonder Years are at their strongest sharing the vivid details and emotions in someone’s story. Next, “Cardinals II” is the clear sequel to “Cardinals” from their No Closer To Heaven album.The original track was about the pain felt from not being able to be there for a friend in need. In a similar vein, “Cardinals II” is also about feeling the weight of everything, but being unable to be there for a friend. The track even makes a callback to a line from the first song, “I had that nightmare again.”
The fifth track, “The Paris of Nowhere” is a love letter to Philadelphia. The band constantly references their home city in songs, now the City of Brotherly Love gets its own track. With references from former Eagles player Nick Foles to the Schuylkill River, it’s the perfect track for hometown fans. And very aptly described as “desperate, kind, and cut-throat.” As a contrast to upbeat guitars, the next track, “Summer Clothes” is serene like the sound of crashing waves. The beautiful ode to summer, fond memories, and escaping reality for a bit is a nice break in the mindset and amongst some heavier tracks.
Then, TWY pick up the pace again with “Lost in the Light.” As Soupy wonders, “what if the magic’s gone?” listeners know it’s clearly not. Dan’s words continue to be powerful and the band is only fueling his fire with heavy guitars and a powerful rhythm section. “Lost in the Light” is followed by another introspective and fourth-wall breaking track, “Songs About Death.” As Dan laments about how he always sings about death, the feedback of guitars plays in the background. It’s sad how we keep going through tragedies, but it’s honest and real. The last line hits maybe a little too hard: “I sing them songs about death and they sing along. It’s gotta stop.”
Following that harrowing track is another quarantine anthem. “Low Tide,” one of the previous songs is about the struggle to care during tough times. Lines like, “I keep making lists of shit to tell my therapist the reasons I wish I didn’t exist. and I’m growing out my hair ’cause who gives a shit,” exemplify points that many of us reached the past few years. The Wonder Years of adding a bit of grace to feelings that are extremely ungraceful. “Low Tide” is a classic sad lyrics, but would be fun to mosh to. The Wonder Years bread and butter and we love them for that.
“Laura & the Beehive” is a beautiful song about Dan Campbell’s grandmother. It’s a touching song about love and the bond between family members. Lyrics such as, “I just called to hear your voice” hit home for anyone far away from a loved one. The track is gentle and demonstrate the band’s range as well as their ability to contact switch from high energy to ballad. Meanwhile, “Old Friends Like Lost Teeth” is another Wonder Years classic thematically and sonically. It’s about visions from dreams, especially when seeing a friend who passed away in a dream. The lyrics are haunting yet comforting. Paired with energetic riffs, this track will surely go hard live.
Lastly, the track ends with a tear-jerker about being a parent. “You’re the Reason I Don’t Want the World to End” is delicate, honest, and everything we could want from a The Wonder Years song. It’s about wanting to live for your kids even though the world seems to be falling apart. With dynamic instrumentation and a mixing sadness with hope, it’s a brilliant way to close out the album.
Overall, The Hum That Goes On Forever has taken us on an emotional rollercoaster but we wouldn’t have it any other way. This album proves that The Wonder Years are a force to be reckoned with in terms of both songwriting and musicality. The four years between albums was definitely worth the wait. We’re sure The Hum That Goes On Forever will be inspiring listeners and other musicians for years to come. Just like us, we hope you left this listening experience having smiled, cried, and felt every other emotion in between.