Sound — 8
Yellowcard have always had a unique sound, they are after all, a five man band who boast a violinist. In their previous album (Lights and Sounds) they somewhat strayed from this sound; however in their latest album, Paper Walls, they've well and truly returned to their sound. The album is, if anything, confident, it features everything you could expect from Yellowcard, their sound is somewhat amazing this time around, and they've not shied away from using their violin player again. The guitars are rocky, they carry the theme of the album perfectly and don't shy away from a challenge, it's hard to think that Ryan Key wrote this album in a shoddy motel! The drums are also impressive, LP is a brilliant drummer, the drums fit everything perfectly and on some occasions you sit with your mouth open at the speed he can play. What this album really has is a fantastic range, some songs are hard and fast, and then slow and acoustic. The song Paper Walls features a choir on top of an acoustic riff, the heavy guitar riff comes in straight away after the slow introduction, I first heard this song at my friend's house and I knew I had to have the album then the heavy composition that recurs through out the album is amazing, and it makes the album what it truly is. The sound, all together is amazing, Yellowcard have returned to their roots with this one and not shied away from making a brilliant album, the sound is truly phenomenal. Perhaps the only real problem I had with Yellowcard's sound is that some of the songs are somewhat forgettable, I remember having a conversation with my friend about the album and he made a reference to a couple of the tracks and I was clueless as to the sound, some of the song's sounds just miss being impressive and instead settle at being good.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are superb, they each tell a story that is a personal one, Ryan Key has truly excelled himself once again, the most impressive set of lyrics for me personally are Dear Bobbie, a story about Ryan Key's Granddad reading a letter he's sending to his wife about how he still remembers all those years ago, and how he still loves her despite the years, the words are spoken over a soft acoustic and piano backing track, with Ryan Key's wonderfully soft, yet strangely powerful, voice coming in, singing about how he'll die loving this person, and no matter what, he always will. All the lyrics in this album are personal, the song Shadows And Regrets (from what I can tell) is about Ryan Key's return to his home town where he wrote the album, in an interview he said that he wrote the album in a motel, because he'd become a stranger in his home town, this song, to me, reflects his feelings. Having said all this, to me Yellowcard have lost their strange lyrics, in their past albums you've had to search for meanings behind the songs, in this album everything's kind of laid on thick, personal songs are all well and good, but sometimes it would be nice to have a bit of 'this is the world coming down on my head'. "I'm back, back in town/And everything has changed/I feel, feel let down/The faces stay the same/I see, see shadows/Of who we used to be/When I drive, drive so slow/Through this memory," Shadows and Regrets, first verse. The lyrics are never out of place with the music, the lyrics and the music blend perfectly, when you want the music to get powerful, it does, and even when you don't want it to, you're pleased that it did. The album features many songs that tell personal stories, and the music always, always blends beautifully with the lyrics. The lyrics are brought to life by the music in a way that only Yellowcard can do. Ryan Key is still one of the most amazing singers in this genre, he has a range that would make most singers jealous, I know I am. He can reach strong powerful notes, holding them for several seconds without any obvious effort, in every song Ryan Key's vocals are impressive, if the lyrics and music were beautiful enough, Ryan Key makes this album utterly superb.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, this album is brilliant, it's hard to find any flaws in it, perhaps the only two is that there aren't enough acoustic songs for my liking and that a couple of the songs on the album you can't help but feel like they're filler tracks, and if the album went without them, it'd be even better. That is however, me being picky, this album is amazing and I would recommend it to anyone, from long term Yellowcard fans whose faith has dwindled since Lights and Sounds, to anyone into rock looking for a new band to listen to. Many albums were released around the same time as this, I remember wanting at least six others at the same time as this, but Yellowcard's style is simply unique, they do what they do perfectly, this album truly is amazing. In my opinion, the most impressive songs on the album are Light Up The Sky, Shadows And Regrets, Five Becomes Four, Dear Bobbie, Paper Walls. All for various reasons, whether it be lyrics, sound, or a combination of both. I love this album's repeatability, you can listen to the whole thing dozens of times without getting bored - and then go back and listen to your favourite songs for many, many months. If this album were lost, and all records deleted from my computer and all my friends suddenly became reluctant to lend me a copy, then I would definitely buy this album again, it's simply one of those albums I have to have. Overall, this album is a spectacular blend of lyrics and sounds, the guitar work is amazing, the vocals are amazing, the mixture of rockier songs to the slower more powerful songs are simply brilliant.