Just a few weeks ago, The Wonder Years put up a mysterious website with a list of coordinates; these coordinates happened to be the location of posters spread across the globe — from Manhattan to Dublin to Sydney and many other places — each containing a letter spelling out a password to unlock a teaser video for their forthcoming album Sister Cities. In the video, lead singer Dan Campbell offers a succinct thesis for their latest work: “It’s a record about distance, or maybe how little the distance matters anymore.”
Last week, the band released the title track as the album’s lead single along with a music video directed by Josh Coll (formerly of Foxing). The song explores this idea of distance and the interconnectivity of the human experience. Both in composition and lyricism, The Wonder Years continue to separate themselves from other contemporary rock bands, relaying emotionality that feels intimate to the listener but is also immediately understood to be universal. Campbell belts out on the bridge, “I was just mange and skin and bone / You took me into your home / Kept warm on a blanket from your worn out winter coat,” leaving us with a hint of the comfort we experience in the people around us; reminding us that negativity and collapse aren’t permanent.
The video chronicles the experiences of people staying at the same motel, mapping out different emotions in their separate lives and following the maid who cleans up the aftermath — there’s destructive children, lovers in the bathtub, a duo dancing in a haze, a couple in a bitter argument and a family trying to cope with their displacement by a hurricane. Throughout the video, shots cut from delight and ecstasy to grief and anger, a breathless whirlwind of emotions as frantic as the track itself. Uniting these scenes in the common setting of the motel unites these emotions and experiences within all of us, conveying the cohesive essence of human nature.
Toward the end of their teaser, Campbell adds that the record is “about how we all experience grief and successes in these alternating tidal waves of joy and devastation,” a perfect summary for the theme of their latest music video. If the lead single is any indication, The Wonder Years’s masterful storytelling is taken to new horizons and even greater heights on Sister Cities, one with a scope far vaster than the more personally oriented narratives explored on their past few records.