I blame Jason Tate for having to write this review.
The hype surrounding Yellowcard's major-label debut has been ridiculous, thanks to certain websites and choice fanboys around the world. I could've sworn the second this album came out, there would be some negative review posted on this site, completely lambasting everything and anything Yellowcard does, just to spite everyone else. But I like Yellowcard, I enjoyed their previous releases, and I wanted to try and provide an informative and somewhat unbiased review. Because, in my foolish opinion, cd reviews are meant to provide people with the necessary information to make an accurate assessment on whether or not said person should purchase the reviewed album. It shouldn't be a total giddy fanboy squealing over how amazing and tear-inducing someone's music is. On the other hand, it shouldn't be an unjustified, unwarranted, "this band sucks becasue I say so" thing either.
So how, exactly, is Ocean Avenue?
The album begins with the designated single "Way Away", which is an excellent introduction to the band: upbeat, catchy, melodic pop-punk, with the unmistakeable influence of Yellowcard's driving violin. "Breathing" is another excellent track. "Only One" has what may be the most memorable hook I have ever heard. But here's where I run into a problem. The first time I went through this album, these were the only songs that stuck out to be as fantastic. The rest seemed to be a muddled, unmemorable blur. After listening to the entire album several more times, the same problem remained. Songs like "Ocean Avenue", "Life Of A Salesman", "Miles Apart", and "Believe" are good songs, but just a little shy of excellence. As the album wears on, the violin is not as much as a driving force as it is in the beginning, and softer songs such as "View From Heaven" and "One Year, Six Months" fail to capture the true power of this band. Sure, sometimes you sit back and say, "Wow, is that a violin in there?" But when that becomes all you're listening to, you're not paying attention to the other 75% of the song, which is unfortunately the case throughout Ocean Avenue.
Don't get me wrong. I am a huge Yellowcard supporter, and no one was more excited than I was to hear what is going to no doubt be their big mainstream breakthrough. But for one reason or another, this album just isn't any more than slightly above average. Missing is the more dark sound of the Underdog e.p., and the continous energy of "One For The Kids". The production is top notch, as could be expected, and the lyrics are more upbeat and seemingly less cliche than most bands in the pop-punk genre. At least any negative effect of the band signing to Capitol has yet to be seen.
The bottom line is this: I think they can do better than this. There is potential here, but this just isn't what it was hyped to be. Is it the next soundtrack to your life? No. It is, however, not bad, and worth buying, and their live show is solid and entertaining. Hopefully, the best is still yet to come.