When South Philly’s The Wonder Years dropped The Upsides in January 2010, its warm and tightly woven pop-punk sound was refreshing and unexpected. It was earnest and vitriolic, and vocalist Daniel Campbell’s repetitious utterance of the words “I’m not sad anymore” were uplifting. Nearly two years later, the Alan Ginsberg inspired storytelling in Suburbia is significantly darker and wearier — a rumination to the key of pop-inspired hardcore, where dueling guitars shine in major keys atop pounding drums.
Suburbia tones down its mosh-pop demeanor in favour of striking an emotional chord. An immediate response to its forward-looking prequel (the bouncier “Local Man Ruins Everything” features a lyric that states, “what I learned was it’s not about forcing happiness/It’s about not letting sadness win”), Suburbia is for 2011 what The Promise Ring’s Nothing Feels Good was for 1997: a poppy, melodic, but ultimately depressive album yearning for and lamenting smalltown suburban home.