AOTY 2019

Sister Cities

The Wonder Years - Sister Cities
Critic Score
Based on 10 reviews
2018 Ratings: #37 / 736
User Score
Based on 99 ratings
2018 Ratings: #637
April 6, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Hopeless / Label
Suggest a Genre
Abuse of this feature may prevent future contributions from your account.
Your Review
Sign In to rate and review



Fresh and ambitious without taking a step too far, Sister Cities is the Wonder Years' most fully realized work, and an artistic statement that deserves to be taken seriously.


Sister Cities is another entry in the secular gospel of the Wonder Years discography.

Under The Radar
There are layers aplenty to peel away here ... but even without probing that deeply it's clear that this is a phenomenal album that not only transcends genres but which also only feels like the next phase of a career already 13 years short that has a long and exciting future ahead.
Branching into soaring indie, expressive emo and ambitious post-rock; the Wonder Years will always know how to bring the hooks, but on Sister Cities, they’ve left the South Philly basement well and truly behind.
Offering up another soundtrack for the disenfranchised and downtrodden, ‘Sister Cities’ is a renewed example of just how powerful and poignant The Wonder Years can be.
The Line of Best Fit

The band have matured, and grown up; no longer is their staple diet pizza and pop-punk. Instead, Sister Cities is a sullen, brooding album in which the optimism of youth has bled out, replaced with a cathartic cynicism and gut-wrenching heartbreak.

There is absolutely no room for nostalgia in ‘Sister Cities’ as The Wonder Years purposefully step into a whole new era. They may have come out swinging from a South Philly basement in their early days but now they are at home on huge stages, and they have songs to match.

Fans of big, stadium-swinging hooks might find Sister Cities a sparser, more introspective affair than they prefer, but the band seems okay with leaving South Philly basements behind and seeing more of the world. After doing so much to put the spirit of their hometown into music, they’re aiming for something larger now.


The overall tone of Sister Cities is intense and, at times, comes across as unrelentingly dour. Still, the Wonder Years' maturation from suburban pop punk ennui to (literal) world-weary emo desperation feels like a logical progression, and it's hard to fault them for tackling bigger subjects.

Lyrically this is so fucking rich, there were a few times where I felt genuinely choked up by the poignancy and honesty. Instrumentally, it's all good but I'd have killed for something a bit more challenging or apt to the geographical concept the band were going for.
For the most part, The Wonder Years on this album give us more of the same of what's made them such a mainstay of current Emo and Pop Punk for years. I wouldn't say this is as urgent and genre shifting as "No Closer To Heaven", and more often than not The Wonder Years are a little too far in their comfort zone. But the passionate performances, nostalgic lyrics, and solid production are all back in spades. Not to mention, it does seem like Wonder Years are further from the Pop Punk ... read more
This is great. Is it innovative, not really? But it’s just another great album by the band. “Sister Cities” gets you pumped, “Flowers where Your Face Should Be” and “Pyramids of Salt” assault your mental state. And like always, the closing track “The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me” just blows me away. The band is doing great things.
Very good
would be better if it was mixed correctly
Purchasing Sister Cities from Amazon helps support Album of the Year. Or consider a donation?
Become a Donor
Donor badge, no ads + more benefits.

Year End Lists

#21/The Alternative
#45/Rock Sound

Track List

  1. Raining in Kyoto
  2. Pyramids of Salt
  3. It Must Get Lonely
  4. Sister Cities
  5. Flowers Where Your Face Should Be
  6. Heaven's Gate (Sad & Sober)
  7. We Look Like Lightning
  8. The Ghosts of Right Now
  9. When the Blue Finally Came
  10. The Orange Grove
  11. The Ocean Grew Hands to Hold Me
Sign in to comment
No one has said anything yet.
In Library (29)

Added on: March 11, 2018