Sound — 8
At passing, Yellowcard seems to be your standard SoCal (via Florida) Pop-Punk/Emo band. The usual driving, catchy riffs are present and accounted for, as are the high-pitched, whiny vocals, which are mostly about a girl. However, after listening to Ocean Avenue for a while, you get the feeling that something's different. What's playing that catchy lead riff in 'Breathing'? And what's that weird thing playing in 'Only One?' Well, if you read the back of the album booklet, you'll find that those interesting sounds are coming from a violin, viola and cello. That's right, one of the main band members is the electric violinist. Sean Mackin is an excellent violinist, providing many catchy riffs, as well as adding a key layer to Yellowcard that many bands lack. Christine Choi and Rodney Wirtz also give notable contributions to half of the tracks on the albums on the cello and viola, respectively. The guitar and drum work is not anything special, but it's still good too.
Lyrics — 6
What's a Pop-Punk/Emo band without a lead vocalist with a high voice singing about a girl? Ryan Key's lyrics are much like Jordan Pundik's (New Found Glory), and Ryan's voice even sounds like Jordan's. These lyrics aren't anything we haven't seen before, but they're enjoyable. They flow nicely, they work with the music, and they're heartfelt. Sean Mackin also does some backup vocal work for those standard punk voice chords.
Overall Impression — 8
Ocean Avenue is a worthy addition to any SoCal Punk Rocker's CD collection. Yellowcard is a lot like its peers in some ways, but they've got a lot of unique touches in their sound that makes them interesting. This isn't a spectacular album, but there are a lot of good tracks on this CD (in fact, they're almost all good) and the songs don't all sound the same. If you listen to 'Way Away', and then transition to 'One Year, Six Months, it sounds like you've switched CDs. Ocean Avenue is a good album overall, especially since it delivers some fresh sounds, which is a relief next to all of those textbook Pop-Punk/Emo bands around.