Music Review: “Burst & Decay” by The Wonder Years

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of punk, indie, and pop punk. You might not know that I’m also a huge fan of acoustic music. So when the two combine, I instantly love it.

Burst & Decay is the most recent release from one of my favorite bands, indie/pop punk group The Wonder Years. Instead of being an EP full of new songs, the album features 7 acoustic songs from all of their previous albums. The songs included are: “A Song For Ernest Hemingway,” “There, There,” “Coffee Eyes,” “Cardinals,” “Don’t Let Me Cave In,” “Dismantling Summer,” and “You in January.” It was released back in September of this year.

Even though the EP is only 25 minutes of old songs, it’s 25 beautiful minutes. The Wonder Years did everything correctly in releasing acoustic versions of some of their songs.

I talked about the 7 songs below.

A Song for Ernest Hemingway

This song comes from their last studio album No Closer to Heaven (2015) and is the first song on the album. A reason I’m such a huge fan of this EP is because it takes the intensity that’s in most TWY songs and slows it down. As much as I love the intensity that the songs normally have, it’s nice to occasionally slow things down. It gives the listener the ability to appreciate not just the music but also the lyrics. The lead singer of The Wonder Years, Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell, has a way with words like no other. I’d say that the group is most known for their lyrics more than anything, and the acoustic version of this song really highlights that song writing.

There, There

An already slow song, “There, There” comes from their fourth studio album The Greatest Generation (2013) and might be one of my favorites off Burst & Decay. This track is definitely one of the groups most popular, and there’s a good reason for it. It incorporates all of the feelings of sadness, remorse, and regret into one track killer track, with soul crushing lyrics and Campbell’s signature wailing vocals. Obviously they slow it down for the acoustic version, but it still packs as much of a punch as the regular one. This is for sure one of the must listen to tracks on the EP.

Listen to it here:

Coffee Eyes

This song comes from their album Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing (2011), making it one of the oldest ones on here. Although there are no songs from their first album, The Upsides (2010), the two songs from their 2011 album make up for it. I got into the group before they released The Greatest Generation, and I legitimately owned the physical album version of Suburbia, so these songs will always have a special place in my heart. A lot of these acoustic songs don’t really give Campbell the ability to wail like he normally does, but the chorus for this song is the perfect opportunity for him to show off the normal Wonder Year’s sound in acoustic form. I’m pretty fond of this song, but it’s not my favorite on the album.

Cardinals

This song comes from their last studio album No Closer to Heaven (2015). Even as an acoustic version, the desperation that can be heard in the regular version is still there. This is by far my favorite cover on the EP. There’s just so much emotion there that Campbell taps in to that makes it perfect to me. The lyrics are the best part for me since they’re incredibly relatable. I feel like I should have more to say about this, but it blows me away so much that it’s hard for me to really pinpoint what I really love about it.

This song is by far the best on the EP.

Don’t Let Me Cave In 

This song comes from their album Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing (2011), so it’s another oldie and has a special place in my heart. This is another instance of one of the more fast-pace songs from the group being slowed down. It kind of sounds completely different from what the original song sounds like, but I like it. It shows another side to the group that you don’t always get in their regular songs. It’s a great track.

Dismantling Summer

This song comes from their studio album The Greatest Generation (2013). This is for sure one of my favorite songs off that album as well as one of my favorite songs by them of all time, so it’s natural that I’d love this version of it too. There’s not much to say about this song that hasn’t been said about the other ones. It’s great, and it’s another one of the acoustic covers that gives Campbell the chance to show off the signature Wonder Years wail. The lyrics are great, the music is great, everything’s great. Really, I’m not hard to please and this song does it for me.

You in January 

This song comes from their last studio album No Closer to Heaven (2015) and it’s the last one on the album. It’s one of the slower songs that the band has to begin with, but they slow it down even more with this cover. And the gosh darn strings throughout the whole song? They make the entire thing absolutely perfect. The lyrics in this song are also where the title of the whole EP comes from, when Campbell sings “You held me together, I used to burst and decay.” There are a ton of other lyrics in the song that really hit me hard, but those are definitely at the top of the list.

To be honest with you, The Wonder Years can do no wrong in my book. I’ve liked everything they’ve ever released, and Burst & Decay is no exception. I like the fact that the EP slows down some of their songs and gives you a chance to really appreciate the music and the lyrics. I’m especially fond of the songs that have string instruments in them – it gives them a new element as well as a boost. Sometimes acoustic songs can sound a little boring, but the strings really kept them from falling into that trap.

Overall? This has got to be one of my favorite albums/EPs released this year. It might not be the biggest or best thing the group has ever done, but The Wonder Years really nailed it with this one.

Listen to the whole thing on Spotify below, or on YouTube:

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