Although two sensationally appealing pop punk albums would follow in its wake, Get Stoked On It! was hardly a sign of good things to come for The Wonder Years. With the release of their debut album, fun is the ultimate and only objective from the outset, which the band largely achieves through amusing and often random lyrical premises and song titles. The end result is a highly enjoyable and entertaining experience, but the musical method that transports listeners there leaves a lot to be desired. The abundance of poppy synthesizers to accompany heavy guitar riffs and upbeat drumming creates a pleasant sound, but it feels overdone at times, especially when the electronic influences of Mikey Kelly’s keyboards persistently rage throughout entire songs. And while lead singer Dan “Soupy” Campbell’s rugged and unrefined vocals are sure to connect with the angst-filled pop punk kids the album is clearly targeting, they occasionally cross into unenjoyable territory. Fans of the band’s more recent albums will surely find something to enjoy from The Wonder Years’ inauspicious start, but a lot of Get Stoked On It! is inconsequential when compared to what the band’s doing now.
Between Mike Kennedy’s animated drum beat, the lively guitar riffs of Matt Brasch and Casey Cavaliere and some prominent synth rhythms, “Keystone State Dude-Core” quickly establishes the fun tone and heavier sound of Get Stoked On It! This highly entertaining leadoff also serves as an indicator of the hilarious and ridiculous kind of premises to expect the rest of the way as Campbell gives his version of truth on what it means to be young: “We’re six dudes from the Keystone State, we’re broke as f**k but we can’t complain / We haven’t showered in at least four days, this s**t’s a bust but we’ll get stoked on it.”
“Bout To Get Fruit Punched, Homie” has one of the most unique premises in the history of pop punk in addition to highly appealing synthesizers to back it up. Told from the point of view of Mr. Kool-Aid, Campbell tells an amusing and somewhat dark tale of betrayal on the part of his friend Cap’n Crunch. The concept of two childish and popular advertising cartoon characters peddling drugs and committing crimes is priceless and the serious tone of Campbell’s tragic story is too ridiculous and hardcore to not make the listener laugh, which allows the band to somehow accomplish their goal of fun without crafting anything overly complicated or masterful.
Josh Martin’s bass hook provides the underlying aggression for the other guitar riffs of “Zombies Are The New Black,” yet another entertaining but compositionally lackluster pop punk rocker. The heavier sound of Get Stoked On It! is most apparent here with some unclean vocals that don’t really enhance the quality of the song and feel a bit force, but the catchy, synth-ridden chorus makes up for it.
With its pop punk hooks and synthesizer-heavy setlist, Get Stoked On It! entertains at times but falls short of impressing anyone not paying attention to its clever and humorous songwriting. Campbell’s harsh vocals, constant guitar-chugging and overzealous synth rhythms will attract a fair share of pop punk fans, but the combination feels overused by the time this debut’s run its course. Fans of Motion City Soundtrack, Four Year Strong, Set Your Goals, Fireworks, Man Overboard, Veara and The Starting Line should find something to enjoy here, but The Wonder Years’ artistic progression in later albums should be much appreciated after giving Get Stoked On It! a spin.
Final Score: 6/10
Rank: 3rd (three total albums)
- Keystone State Dude-Core
- Bout To Get Fruit Punched, Homie
- Buzz Aldrin: Poster Boy For Second Place
- Let’s Moshercise!!!
- What If We [Swam] Into Nothing?
- Racing Trains
- Zombies Are The New Black
- We Were Giants
- My Geraldine Lies Over The Delaware
- Dude, What Is A Land Pirate?
- I Fell In Love With A Ninja Master
- When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong