Every time I think The Wonder Years have finally peaked, they do something new and bring the bar up even higher. With The Hum Goes On Forever, we see the guys reckon with having younger eyes on them at all times, and the implications that has. In other words, The Wonder Years have finally grown up.
This album feels a lot like tying up loose ends in TWY lore, with callbacks to The Greatest Generation lyrically in several spots, but very in-your-face with lead single, “Oldest Daughter”, a song about “Madelyn”. There is a track called “Cardinals II”, in which we get punched in the gut with “I had that nightmare again / You fall and you’re helpless” sung in just the most devastating way vocalist Dan Campbell can find. In “The Paris of Nowhere” bridge, we get “It must get lonely / Without Colleen and Cheryl around”, a song title from their last full length album Sister Cities. This album all feels very overarching and a huge piece of TWY history. It feels effortlessly familiar
Every time I say, “This is their best album,” and with each release, I’m proven wrong. Somehow every album is their best, and I think it’s because of the honesty they pour into every one of their songs. They want to grow as a band, they want to grow as lyricists, but they also want to grow as people. And I think their earnestness and desperate search for something better keeps their art flowing. Even though someone who may just be getting into the band may think “everything sounds the same,” those who have been walking behind the band over the years and following their story can see the growth.
As the years have gone by and I have learned to cling to whatever is sure in life, I’ve never been more sure that The Wonder Years will stand the test of time. When I am older and my kids, or my nieces and nephews, ask for something to listen to, I know exactly who to point them to. This is one of those bands that have gotten me through my darkest days, even when they were going through their own dark times. I love this album. I love how raw it is.
I think my favorite track so far is “Old Friends Like Lost Teeth”. I’m not a parent so a lot of the tracks don’t quite hit my heart in that way, but I have lost people. I was on a run when I first listened through the album and when I heard “I wanna build you back from memory / Something that can stay / That can stay here when you go”, and “I’m caught in the gray / Drifting out here all alone”, I lost whatever breath I had left. It has still stuck with me several listens through, and i wait for it every time, which is basically my rubric for favorite album track.
I think at the crux of all of The Wonder Years’ art is just trying. And I think that’s what keeps us all around. The idea that the only thing someone could want from us is just whatever we have in our hands to offer in a demanding world is incredibly refreshing and relieving. And I think that the album title is a testament to that. Nothing will stop, the world will keep rushing around us, but for 45 minutes with The Hum Goes on Forever, or at the next TWY show, we can take whatever we need, and fill our hands with something to get us through. As the album ends, “Put in the work / Plant a garden / Try to stay afloat.”
by Nadia Alves
Nadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.