*This review was composed by Becky Kovach and edited by Erik van Rheenen
The Wonder Years, Philadelphia’s pop-punk stalwarts, announced their highly anticipated new album, The Greatest Generation, with an emotional trailer describing it as “the third part of a trilogy about growing up.” As fans heard in those first two albums, growing up is a constant battle. But The Greatest Generation discusses emerging from those obstacles better, stronger, and wiser than the things you’ve faced.
Though the battle may be over, the first single, “Passing Through a Screen Door,” makes it clear that every struggle leaves behind scars. The initials of the title are a clever play on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the track has an aggressive and jittery feel. The song is restless; it opens with Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s recognizably gritty vocals over an anxiously charged-up guitar melody. He sings about being on the road and “feeling like [he’s] falling behind.” It’s followed up by the admission that “the highway won,” an off-handed reference to the band’s song “Me vs. The Highway.”
Whereas in most songs the chorus provides some moments of stability between verses, the chorus in this track comes and goes without much warning. It is a succinct confession that it’s hard to abandon old habits of looking for a way out or “waiting for another disaster” to fall.
Things settle down briefly during the bridge: the guitars are quietly muted and the drums slow to a pensive pace, leaving Campbell’s vocals exposed and vulnerable. This is also the only part of the song in which he lyrically settles down as well. But even then, Campbell can’t get comfortable and insists on keeping “a flashlight and the train times” close at hand.