EP Review: The Wonder Years - ‘Burst & Decay’ EP

In July, The Wonder Years announced a new venture, something vocalist Dan Campbell simply explained as "a collective - an avenue for music and art and writing and performance". He also announced that the first official business from this 'collective', The Loneliest Place On Earth, would be a co-release with Hopeless Records of a new EP that the band recorded in May. And so we all started counting the days to the release of Burst And Decay.

A Song For Earnest Hemingway builds gradually from just a guitar and vocals to gradually include percussion and synth beats before culminating with a full band breakdown, just like the original does. In just three minutes, The Wonder Years open their EP perfectly and manage to strap you into the emotional rollercoaster that you will not escape from until you force yourself to stop listening to it.

There, There was released just days after the announcement and, as expected, fans went crazy for it. This is a track that fans have always connected with, and hearing it in such a stripped back way leaves The Wonder Years and their fans with nowhere to hide from the emotions brought to light in the song. Coffee Eyes is is arguably the most ‘heavy’ (as far as Pop Punk goes) song chosen to be included in this EP, so this new version is nothing short of incredible. With strings accompanying the guitar towards the end of the track, this track is almost unrecognisable when compared to the original and the way it was so perfectly reimagined showcases just how talented The Wonder Years really are, as if we ever doubted it.

Cardinals is, for me, the stand out track of this release. In classic The Wonder Years style, this song is just as heart wrenching as the rest, but with lyrics like “I know the devil you've been fighting with, I swear I'll never let you down again”, it’s impossible not to feel like this song is being performed for you and you alone. This is a track about saving someone, and it will no doubt do exactly that for any fan of The Wonder Years who has ever felt like they need saving.

The only other song from 2011 album Suburbia, Don’t Let Me Cave In is like a beautiful cry for help. Campbell’s vocals are heavy with emotion as the song drifts through a perfect acoustic melody. We may have heard all these songs before, but the way they are reimagined makes them feel completely new at the same time. That is all but one. Dismantling Summer sounds and feels just like the original, just softer and sweeter.

The EP is closed perfectly with You In January - three minutes of the most heart wrenching vocals we’ve heard yet. If you weren’t already emotional by the time you got to the end of this EP, that’s all about to change. The addition of strings, piano and guest vocals make this the most beautiful ending to such a phenomenal record.

The Wonder Years are a band that have never been afraid to lay themselves bare for their fans. Their lyrics that have always been brutally honest and unapologetically heartbreaking, but this has always been shielded by a veil of pop punk fun. This EP changes that. With the catchy guitar riffs and the powerful gang vocals stripped back, The Wonder Years are pushing their lyrics to the forefront and refusing to be sorry for breaking your heart with them. Burst & Decay may be a collection of songs we all already know and love, but hearing them like this gives them a new breath of life and makes them more emotive than ever.

Review by Megan Smith

Burst and Decay EP is released Friday 22nd September 2017