We're all closer than you think. Sure, you can tweet your feelings to millions around the world, but it's community that ultimately ties together our disparate worlds. It's what Honoré de Balzac called the human comedy — age and race and men and women and class all wrapped up in each other. That's the central thesis of Sister Cities, the richly textured and emotionally wrenching record by The Wonder Years.
"Raining in Kyoto" begins the album with a big-hearted pop-punk blast. For fans who've been following along, it's a bit of a bait-and-switch for the sonically subdued songs to follow, but lyrically captures that space between intimacy and universality.
"You're half-awake / And I bought you a radio to play the blues away / With my hand to hold, you asked about the way you wish they'd let you die at home," Dan Campbells sings. The song was written about his grandfather, whom Campbell found out had died while boarding a plane for a Japanese tour, and the kindness of a stranger at a shrine who guided him through a "makeshift funeral."
Director Josh Coll takes the themes of "Raining in Kyoto" to the streets and people of Philadelphia (The Wonder Years' hometown) and various locations in Japan. You see children on bicycles, chefs in restaurants, teens bored in transit, boxers and motorcyclists. At a certain point, you stop seeing where these people live and instead how these people live.
Sister Cities is out now via Hopeless Records. The Wonder Years are on tour.