The Wonder Years’ Burst & Decay Vol. II Album and Show Review

The Wonder Years - Photo by Jonathan Weiner

Three years after the release of the Burst & Decay EP in 2017, rock band The Wonder Years graced fans with Burst & Decay, Vol. II on February 14th, 2020. On tour, frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell joked that they decided to once again reimagine some of their old songs as acoustic ballads because fans kept complaining that their music “wasn’t sad enough.” Long-time fans have watched the band’s music change significantly over the years. They started out making fast-paced, mostly lighthearted pop-punk songs (band merch circa 2013 features slogans like, “Half pop-punk, half anxiety”), but, over the years, their music has evolved. On the last few albums, Soupy sings a little bit more slowly and with a lot more emotion. According to Campbell, he even gets frequent requests to play at weddings these days.

Burst & Decay, Vol. II gave the band another chance to breathe new life into some songs whose original versions may not resonate like they did a decade ago. The first single from the EP was a breathtaking reimagining of the 2018 song, We Look Like Lightning. But the real stars (arguably) turned out to be the rejuvenated earlier songs, such as Washington Square Park off of The Upsides and Hoodie Weather off of Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. Hearing Campbell’s matured voice sing old lyrics brings about a whole new sense of nostalgia.

And, speaking of nostalgia, The Wonder Years were not afraid to return to their roots and play the originals of some old tracks live before the winter tour got cut short. The February 25th show began with Campbell sitting on a stool as the band played through many of the songs off of Burst & Decay, Vol. II, with a few others thrown in. These included an acoustic version of The Ghosts of Right Now off of the Sister Cities limited edition Target-exclusive CD and another Suburbia oldie, Living Room Song. But the entire mood changed once the electric set began. The crowd emerged from their dream-like states and got rowdy, moshing along to old favorites like Melrose Diner and Came Out Swinging, which many fans likely hadn’t heard since Warped Tour days.

Unfortunately, the band was forced to postpone the remainder of the tour in mid-March due to COVID-19 concerns. The new dates for the remaining shows can be found below.

Jul 9 – Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues

Jul 11 – Detroit, MI @ The Majestic

Jul 13 – Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall

Jul 14 – Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom

Jul 15 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes

Jul 16 – New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place

Jul 18 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Fillmore