I almost intrinsically oppose artists giving their music the acoustic treatment. It usually just comes across as pretentious and pseudo-emotional to this reviewer. However I’ll occasionally find that acoustic release that does it right, where the new take on a familiar song gives it new emotional depth. Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years have managed to release a phenomenal acoustic EP.
Burst & Decay lifts tracks from 3 of their past studio albums, strips them bare, throws in gorgeous piano and superb brush drumming, and what we’re left with are completely revitalized songs. “I’m sorry I don’t laugh at the right times,” was already a powerful, heartfelt moment on “There, There,” but here in its new acoustic version it just feels so much more raw. Vocalist Dan Campbell isn’t screaming it here like he does on the original version from 2013’s The Greatest Generation, but there’s just something in the way the track is laid out here that makes it feel just as strong.
“Don’t Let Me Cave In” from Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing was already one of my favorite tracks not just from the Wonder Years but from the pop punk genre in general. “There comes a day where you rectify who you are with who you wanna be with, and I can’t make those two things coexist.” A line like that always stuck with me the most in its original version, but here stripped down, piano and acoustic guitars accenting it, it struck me even harder.
The Wonder Years have really hit gold here. After a 10 year career of successively better albums I shouldn’t be surprised by anything these introspective punks drop on me. Yet somehow I’m still floored by this release. This release of songs I’ve heard 1000 times each that somehow sound new, fresh, and stronger here. I’m not sure how these guys do it, but I hope they don’t stop anytime soon.
I give Burst & Decay a 4.5/5.
Check out “There, There” here.