In the four years since The Wonder Years released their last album, 2018's Sister Cities, they put out an acoustic EP, and revisited their pop punk roots to play Suburbia and The Upsides on tour and release two new tracks in that style, while frontman Dan Campbell released a new album by his Aaron West & the Roaring Twenties project, put out his debut solo album, and had two kids. Oh yeah, and an entire pandemic happened. When it came time to finally write a new Wonder Years record, Dan found himself faced with a new challenge, questioning the band's very existence: "What are The Wonder Years? Who the fuck are we? What are we supposed to be doing? What are we supposed to sound like?" So he aired his frustrations to someone at the band's label, Hopeless Records, who suggested he "spend some time and think about what it means [to make a Wonder Years record]," and who added, "Make a record that sounds like you. And not like a derivative of what you've done before, like don't photocopy a photocopy. You can make new music that the genre is The Wonder Years." And with The Hum Goes On Forever, that's really what The Wonder Years have done; they've zeroed in on everything that's always separated this band from all of their peers, and everything that's made them such a special band to their ever-expanding diehard fanbase. They've made a record where the genre is The Wonder Years.
As for what exactly that means, it's something that's been in constant development for over a decade. With 2010's The Upsides and 2011's Suburbia I've Given You All and Now I'm Nothing, The Wonder Years and some of their likeminded peers helped solidify pop punk as a valid subgenre -- rather than just a watered-down version of punk -- and history has proven their efforts were anything but futile. By 2013's The Greatest Generation, they'd written arguably the best true-blue pop punk album since Enema of the State. With 2015's No Closer to Heaven, they pushed the boundaries of pop punk about as far as you can push them without losing the unique thrill of the genre. And with Sister Cities, they made a clean break from the genre, offering up emotional, cathartic, melodic, punk-informed rock music that was unmistakably the work of The Wonder Years, but seemed intent on proving that The Wonder Years were more than just a pop punk band. Having made their three previous albums with producer Steve Evetts (known best in the pop punk world for helming such classics as Saves the Day's Through Being Cool and Lifetime's Jersey's Best Dancers), they made Sister Cities with Joe Chiccarelli because of his work on Manchester Orchestra's Mean Everything to Nothing, and they experimented with their sound in ways they never had in the past. Dan doesn't really care what genre you call his band, and he still proudly talks about his love of pop punk, but having that tag attached to The Wonder Years for so long was starting to get in the way of some opportunities that an innovative rock band like this one deserved. Sister Cities helped get The Wonder Years a seat at some of the tables that previously ignored them.