The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (2018)

The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (April 6, 2018)

    The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (April 6, 2018) The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (April 6, 2018)Editorial Reviews
•Ξ•     Vinyl LP pressing. 2018 release. Philadelphia natives The Wonder Years return with their new studio album Sister Cities, a collection of testimonials on love, loss, and finding commonalities in the human experience despite cultural differences. Produced by Joe Chiccarelli (Manchester Orchestra, Morrissey, The Strokes), the album expands on the band’s unique brand of emotional rock that has gained them a massive cult following since their start in 2007. Sister Cities is the follow up to 2015’s No Closer To Heaven, an album that debuted at No. 12 on the Billboard Top 200, No. 1 on the LP Vinyl Albums Chart and went on to sell over 45,000 units in the U.S.
Born: 1975
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Album release: April 6, 2018
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Duration:     41:42
Disc 1:
01. Raining in Kyoto
02. Pyramids of Salt
03. It Must Get Lonely
04. Sister Cities
05. Flowers Where Your Face Should Be
06. Heaven’s Gate (Sad & Sober)
07. We Look Like Lightning
08. The Ghosts of Right Now
09. When the
10. Blue Finally Came
11. The Orange Grove
12. The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me
By Adam Feibel, Published Apr 02, 2018; Score: 9
•★•√     With a calculated mix of deft manoeuvring and brute force, the Wonder Years have broken the bindings of pop punk once and for all. Fans should have seen it coming over the last couple of albums, but Sister Cities is the first of the Pennsylvania heavyweights’ records that outright refuses to be defined and pigeonholed. Yet it’s also not anything that could drive fans away, but rather is the result of a gradual yet noticeable shift that preserves the band’s distinct stylistic markers and singer Dan Campbell’s emotive power while applying it all with greater maturity and deliberation.
•★•√     The title track made for a solid first single, since it’s an upbeat, certified rock tune that’s immediately catchy. But dive into the album and it quickly shows its vast depth. “Raining in Kyoto” kicks off the record with power; its pummelling bridge and huge choruses show a band putting their backs into their emotional burdens. The harsh cuts between quiet and loud that were a weakness of No Closer to Heaven are expertly smoothed out here, with “Pyramids of Salt” especially nailing a balanced, holistic approach to their songwriting. They show their roots with “Heaven’s Gate (Sad & Sober)” and “The Orange Grove,” a couple of more straightforward songs that bring the Greatest Generation days to mind.
•★•√     “Flowers Where Your Face Should Be” is gorgeously arranged, with cascading guitars and ornate string and xylophone parts; it sounds as if springtime were a song. “When the Blue Finally Came” has lush textures and rapturous harmonies, and it does something the Wonder Years rarely let happen — it stays quiet. Rather than exploding into an epic coda, it simply lingers in the air like morning mist. “The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me” closes things out in typical Wonder Years fashion — only one of their albums since 2010’s The Upsides hasn’t ended with a huge, triumphant grand finale — with a reverberant slow waltz that this time is layered and cinematic, sounding both mournful and hopeful.
•★•√     The record documents weary travellers no longer haunted by the road, but rather by the reality back home. Campbell finds reminders of pain in places all over the world while trying to hold on to joy in life and love for the people around him. Fresh and ambitious without taking a step too far, Sister Cities is the Wonder Years’ most fully realized work, and an artistic statement that deserves to be taken seriously.   •★•√
Remfry Dedman @remfrydedman Tuesday 3 April 2018 15:00 BST
•★•√     “That song is a direct result of us challenging each other to push beyond our natural instincts for the duration of an entire song. We hold back a lot on that song, in a way that we wouldn’t normally do. The first time we played that song, I had my eyes closed and I thought ‘did we really write this!? This is the song we’ve been trying to write since we started playing music!’”
•★•√     And that’s exactly what as a whole Sister Cities sounds like; an album that’s the culmination of 13 years of experience from a band who have worked tirelessly on perfecting their craft. “I think we’ve been marching towards this since the beginning of the band” says Dan. “We’ve had a goal on every record to take one bold step forward so that we don’t end up making the same record that we just made, but it’s got to be incremental. If we’d released (2010’s) The Upsides and then followed it up with Sister Cites, I think people would have been so blind~sided by it that as a fan, you would have felt abandoned or alienated. As music fans, we know what it feels like when a band leaves us behind. I remember hearing records when I was younger and saying ‘wow, what happened to the band that I liked?’ But I also remember what it felt like to get a record and be like ‘Damn, this is just the last record they made all over again!’ I think because we’ve taken those incremental steps and moved forward thoughtfully with each release, this feels like a natural move for us to make. I wholeheartedly think this is the best record of our career.” (excerpt)

The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (2018)
The Wonder Years — Sister Cities [Deluxe Edition] (2018)