Today’s Song: The Wonder Years Look Back on Sweet Beach Days with “Summer Clothes”

The Wonder Years © Kelly Mason
The Wonder Years © Kelly Mason
With “Summer Clothes,” The Wonder Years offer a mid-paced, relaxed second single from their upcoming album: An ode to lazy beach days with friends.
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Stream: “Summer Clothes” – The Wonder Years

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You’re sitting in a van jam-packed with friends, making a last-minute trip to the beach. Hastily planned, definitely later in the day than you would’ve left for the beach if you planned it, and even though your friend is driving well above the speed-limit, it feels like you’re living a moment that’ll last forever. When you look back on it years later, it could be an amalgamation of a bunch of different days across summers, but the fondness for the simpleness of those days is what makes them so memorable in the first place. That’s exactly where “Summer Clothes,” the new single from The Wonder Years’ forthcoming album lives.

Built off of a simple, mid-paced acoustic guitar riff that keeps inching along like a bumpy ocean road, the band build the track into a mini-epic that both sets the tone for a night spent on the beach and the sweet memories of it years down the line. What starts like the song that one of your friends plays on the sandy acoustic guitar becomes a spacious post-rock tune with a chorus of voices joining together to close out the evening. While the song eventually culminates in the chorus being delivered with soaring vocals that longtime fans of The Wonder Years will be familiar with, it’s much brighter and more reserved than the types of emotional release that one would expect to hear on records like No Closer To Heaven or Sister Cities.

Summer Clothes - The Wonder Years
Summer Clothes – The Wonder Years

“Summer Clothes” sets a very different tone than its predecessor, “Oldest Daughter.” Where the first single shows the real life impact that addiction and homelessness have on loved ones with an uptempo punk song, “Summer Clothes” aims for the beauty in an otherwise very normal moment: catching a breath of salt air, trying to reach the bottom of the ocean, and playing sloppy Death Cab for Cutie covers.

Frontman and lyricist Dan Campbell sets the tone for the beach days of a bygone era with images of boardwalks, faulty radios, and the smell of the ocean, with lines like “Saw the Ferris Wheel light through your Marlboro smoke.” He keeps a touch of the band’s trademark self-deprecation when describing what the days on the shore make him feel like: “I hate myself a little less when the salt air hits my skin.” The song’s chorus is part of what really harkens to the summers driving to the beach.

I love the glow
of you and your summer clothes,
coming down the parkway,
leaving the city,
shaking off the coast.

The lines can be romantic or platonic, but it calls back to those kinds of long drives where you’re simply in awe of how wonderful the ones you love are.

Ultimately though, the song captures the real-life escapism that a day spent goofing off on the beach can bring. Before singing about trying to “touch the bottom” of the ocean floor, Campbell sings that they were inspired because they were “too young and too dumb and too fed up with life.”

We can make out the shape of the space station
And some lonely astronaut will smile back at us
The Wonder Years © Kelly Mason
The Wonder Years © Kelly Mason

Similar to the ways that Sister Cities examined how the similarities between people stretch across continents, “Summer Clothes” takes the feeling of the insider looking out.

Some kids on the beach thinking about what it must be like to look down on them from outer space, showing that even if they’re looking at it from their hometown perspective, there are many more grand aspirations to be had, just staring at the stars.

As The Wonder Years continually top themselves, the Philadelphia band can capture the types of memories that their early records like The Upsides and Suburbia were built on. Now, they’re able to look back with the wisdom of someone who can appreciate those long-gone days for more than what they seemed at the time.

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:: stream/purchase “Summer Clothes” here ::
Stream: “Summer Clothes” – The Wonder Years

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