Despite the name of the album, No Closer to Heaven definitely feels divine. Combining their tried-and-true pop punk roots with Campbell's affinity for hard-hitting lyrics, The Wonder Years have produced a monolithic album about love, loss and what it means to cope with both. The first single, "Cardinals" sets the album up with a misty-eyed Campbell rushing to save his "brother" while the ambulance drives slowly away. "Cardinals" is also the first time we hear the main line from the album: "We're no saviors if we can't save our brothers."
The line is repeated in the second single, "Cigarettes & Saints" (which is definitely a tear-jerker. Seriously, don't listen to it during rush hour at 7 a.m. before your morning coffee because you will cry...advice from a friend). Even though the track starts calm, it ends with a rousing chant of "You can't have me," meant to tie our generation together against the wreck left to us by our parents.
"Stained Glass Ceiling," which features Letlive.'s Jason Aalon Butlers, presents a jarring shift from Campbell's usual smooth crooning. Despite feeling out of place on the first run through, Butler's rough vocals capture the listeners' attention - and the anger of the song - in a way that bolsters the track as a whole.
All in all, No Closer to Heaven, feels more cohesive as an album compared to The Wonder Year's other EPs, which speaks to the bands' growth. The final song, and title track, "No Closer to Heaven," ends with a whimper. However, the softness of the song comes as a relief compared to the emotional drain from the rest of the album. It also holds some of the most touching lyrics, a testament how loss stays with us "like the first snow of the season that sticks" and it's not something we should be ashamed of. The Wonder Years have, once again, given kids a place to feel less alone.
Must Listen: You in January, I Don't Like Who I Was Then, The Bluest Things on Earth
Favorite lyrics: "The bluest things on Earth don't know shit about the blues."