The Wonder Years: Sister Cities
10Overall Score

The Wonder Years, Sister Cities
Hopeless Records

It’s been three years since the release of No Closer to Heaven, and while those golden tracks haven’t yet ceased to inspire, a dark, cold void appears to have opened up in our iTunes libraries and Spotify playlists. We’ve learned all the lyrics, memorised the chords and now, finally, we’re ready for more.

As if on cue, we’re graced with Sister Cities. Admittedly, it may not be the perfect replica of their past work, veering away from the previous paint-by-numbers approach to pop-punk. However, as soon as long-standing frontman Soupy unloads his urgent, emotionally charged soliloquy, it’s abundantly clear that the same six trailblazers are still ready to smear their blood, sweat and tears all over their art. Creeping verses don’t retreat into the usual block of chords, but instead intricate, whirring riffs pile up before giving in to the explosive chorus. Buckling under outrageously expressive howls, striking keys and battering drums, the bridge delivers nothing short of a perfect miracle.

Instead of using their tried-and-true formula, they’ve added twice the amount of guts and three times the amount of courage. Instead of churning out the same old sound, they’ve experimented with something a little fresher. Instead of playing it safe and following the norm, they’ve followed their hearts. And if we can take one thing from this, it’s that The Wonder Years have returned, and they’re holding nothing back.