Yellowcard - Yellowcard (Cover Artwork)


Yellowcard (2016)

Hopeless records

As the days dwindle for Yellowcard, feelings of nostalgia begin to settle in. And not just on the conscious of fangirls and fanboys. The band itself flooded it’s Facebook page with flashback photos and videos prior to the release of its self-titled and final album. Images of highlighted tips, skate boards and old punk shows- the Ocean Avenue days. Followed by posts revealing more tattoos, more maturity and less punkness. Believe it or not Yellowcard churned out six albums following the iconic Ocean Avenue, teetering back and forth between punk and rock. Their final and self-titled album reflects the greater body of work while putting a bow on a lengthy career.

The band seeks closure in its opening track, “Rest In Peace.” “If this was the last time that we would ever speak/ Could we forgive somehow, could we let it rest in peace” belts lead singer Ryan Key. It’s a tone setter for an album, one that will spend nearly every song saying goodbye. “Rest In Peace” is probably it’s best tune, an accessible pop-punk anthem that sounds like it could really fit on any of Yellowcard’s previous CD’s. It’s fair to say that this will go down has one of the better songs the band has produced since returning from hiatus in 2011.

Track two, “What Appears” is highly produced and littered with modulations. Most of it works, but Keys voice contortion in the end is kind of creepy. The song feels like it belongs on “Lift A Sail,” or maybe a b-sider on “Lights And Sounds.” If you’re looking for throwback pop-punk, “Got Yours” is your track. With a quickened tempo and strained vocals, “Got Yours” has a serious Ocean Avenue feel, maybe reminding listeners of the hit “Way Away.”

Other highlights include “Leave A Light On,” a methodical ballad heavy on piano, primarily leaning on Key’s vocals. “Hurt Is Gone” is the album’s second single and sounds like something off 2011’s When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes; a bit dark, and a unfair guitar-to-violin ratio. But if even without the regular dose of violinist Sean MacKin, the ballad hits. And lines like “Change comes for you even if you’re hiding out” fit in with the greater theme of “the end” well.

That thought is hammered throughout home on “Empty Street” as Key sings “This is goodbye…I won’t be with you, but I won’t be far away.” The song blends instrumentals and vocals seamlessly, with the right touch of violin. It’s personable and one of the album’s standouts. Still, it feels like another step in a march to the final track “Field & Fences.” Listeners wonder “what will the final song, the last ever message from Yellowcard sound like?” The anticipation is almost distracting on a first listen of the album, or it least it was for this reviewer.

“Fields & Fences” doesn’t disappoint, a song that’s really two in one with the first half a harmonious crooner, Key’s voice in perfect accord with the gentle instrumentals. “I want to start living. I want to be brave. I want to find where I belong,” he sings effortlessly synced with MacKin’s violin. Nearly four minutes into the track, the pace changes. Heavy power chords strum and Key breaks in with his recognizable, high pitched serenade. This carries for several moments as he repeats the chorus four times, before the song and the album calmly fade out.

Fans of Yellowcard’s prior couple albums will enjoy their self-titled work. It doesn’t try to tailor to Ocean Avenue sound. Rather it’s a natural progression from the band’s 2014 work Life A Sail and anything that has been put together since the hiatus. It’s more rock than punk or pop. And yes, there is plenty of violin, a Yellowcard hallmark.

Another element of Yellowcard’s mastery is its willingness to diversify. It never tried to duplicate it’s own success, but rather stray away and create something new. It’s a trend present on the self-titled album. The band always strived to be big and personable, both of which they succeed at here. Ultimately, when you think of Yellowcard this won’t be the first album that comes to mind. Personally, Paper Walls and Ocean Avenue will always be the Yellowcard I know. But in the self-titled album the band finishes strong with a few memorable tracks. Thematically, it’s what listeners hoped for, a chance to lament and say goodbye. Gracefully Yellowcard exits the building, preserving a legacy and giving fans a fitting farewell.