Yellowcard Scores a Goal!

Courtesy of Adam Elmakias

It’s been four years since the release of “Paper Walls,” Yellowcard’s last album before they decided to go on what they called an “indefinite hiatus.” Four years and a few member changes later, Yellowcard is back with a new vision for their future.
Most of us remember Yellowcard by their hit single, “Ocean Avenue,” one of many Yellowcard songs that have been played over the radio airwaves since 2003. With the unique addition of a violinist to an otherwise standard pop-punk lineup, it only makes sense for their sound to progress after so many years of making music.

For Yellowcard, this progression comes and sounds so natural that it’s immediately noticeable that these boys have matured into solid songwriters, capable of putting out an album chock full of heartfelt guitar, violin riffs and the ever powerful drumming of Longineu Parsons III.

With “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes,” Yellowcard focuses more than ever on highlighting their violin elements to bring out their unique sound that their fans love. With the first single off the album, “For You and Your Denial,” this couldn’t be more true.

Beginning with an emotional violin segment, Yellowcard lets the listener know that they’re back stronger than ever when everything kicks in. Even though their sound has progressed, this quintet isn’t afraid to stay true to their pop-punk roots with their driving guitar riffs and signature singing style.

As the album moves along, it becomes apparent that there is a strong lyrical theme present in singer/guitarist Ryan Key’s writing. However typical songs about a lost love and past relationships may be, Key manages to turn a trite subject matter on its head with true-to-life lyrics that leave the listener with a better feel for what Key is trying to say as opposed to if he had used abstract metaphors and other devices instead.

For example, in “With You Around,” Key reminisces about a past girlfriend: “All I can think about is you and me driving with a Saves the Day record on, we were singing’ ‘till our voices were gone.” Even though such lyrics are usually dismissed as banal in today’s music world, it works surprisingly well here with the feel of their new album. It’s the direct delivery of the stories and messages in their songs that gives the new Yellowcard an edge over the over-saturated pop-punk scene in today’s music world.

On that note, Yellowcard also shows they’re not afraid to take the tone down a notch like they have in the past with such hits as “Only One.” Off their latest album, tracks like “Hang You Up” and “Sing for Me” showcase their softer side and focus more on the songwriting capabilities of the band. “Hang You Up” also does a great job of showcasing the writing talent of violinist Sean Mackin, which in this particular song works perfectly for the feel they’re going for.

“Sing for Me” is similar to “Hang You Up” in that it’s slowed down and also showcases Mackin’s addition to the band’s sound. This song is also where Key’s lyrical subject matter culminates in its most mature moment, as he reflects back on his life thus far. This can be heard in lines such as “you are the only thing in life that I got right.” The emotion really shines through in both of these songs, and fans will be sure to eat them up.

For those that bought the edition of the album with the two bonus tracks, one of these tracks is the acoustic version of “Sing for Me.” Yellowcard made a great choice here by picking that song — they couldn’t have chosen a better song to be translated into an acoustic version that demonstrates how they combine their abilities to write not only great lyrics but also great strings; whether it’s guitar or violin, Yellowcard shows that they all have a masterful command over their instruments.

That being said, some might find themselves hard-pressed to find the type of punk anthem that “Ocean Avenue” was during its prime. However, that doesn’t mean Yellowcard hasn’t lost touch with their roots. Songs like “The Sound of You and Me” and “For You and Your Denial” have the powerful choruses and driving verses that Yellowcard has always done well with in past efforts; this time around is no different.

On the other hand, some listeners might be turned off by their slight change of style. As energetic as this album may be, it’s definitely taken down a notch for “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes.” As any musician will tell you, all great musicians never write the same album twice, and that’s precisely what Yellowcard has done here.

Yellowcard has not created another album like “Ocean Avenue” — instead, it stands strongly on its own as a testament to Yellowcard’s matured sound that still stays true to their roots. There’s a little bit of everything here for listeners to enjoy, and is definitely worth checking out whether you’re a long-time fan or not.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars