Released: Sep 30, 2016
Genre: Pop Rock, Pop Punk, Alternative Rock
Label: Hopeless Records
Number Of Tracks: 10
Intending this to be their last album before their impending breakup, Yellowcard's tenth album, "Yellowcard," makes a balanced and satisfying offering of their familiar pop punk style and new genre efforts.
YellowcardFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 21, 2016 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The journey of Yellowcard has been one full of sprints, stalls, retreats and retreads. After their violin-laced pop punk sound caught the attention of Capitol Records in 2002, their breakthrough run with the major label came with its own trials and tribulations, including an arguably unsuccessful attempt to pivot to a moodier alt-rock sound in 2006's "Lights and Sounds," and growing tensions within the band resulting in the contentious departures of founding lead guitarist Ben Harper and bassist Peter Mosely. Going on a relatively short hiatus after their run with Capitol, Yellowcard's recent streak of albums showed another spell of aspiration culminating, and after the well acclaim of 2011's "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes" and 2012's "Southern Air," the band signed with Razor & Tie to release 2014's "Lift a Sail," a record that strongly deviated from their pop punk style, shifting into an arena rock sound with much more pop music production value.
Though it didn't receive as much negative feedback as "Lights and Sounds," the absence of pop punk in "Lift a Sail" was destined to polarize the band's listeners, and though Yellowcard touted their recent signing with Razor & Tie as a multi-record deal, things changed shortly after, with the band resigning to Hopeless Records and announcing their upcoming tenth album would be their last.
Given the prior plans abandoned, the announcement was quite a whiplash of a situation, but in the band's self-titled final album, Yellowcard do a better job threading the needle between their roots and their pop rock aspirations. With the opening pop rockers of "Rest in Peace" and the electronica-addled "What Appears" crafted with some 7/4 measurements to give them more intrigue than the pop rock output of their previous album, Yellowcard dive back into the pop punk pool in "Got Yours" and "Savior's Robes," the former boasting some great bass riffs from Josh Portman, and the latter working in a gentle post-rock break in the middle for a more dynamic offering.
Beyond building a bridge between their pop punk roots and their recent pop rock inclinations, Yellowcard bring forth even more styles in "Yellowcard." The indie rock flavor in "The Hurt Is Gone" sounds like Bloc Party with Smashing Pumpkins-style string sections, and they tend to their soft side in the piano & strings ballad of "Leave a Light On" and the country folk cut of "I'm a Wrecking Ball." Though some songs make less of an impact, like the more elementary arena rocker "Empty Street" and the folk-tinged power ballad "Fields & Fences" climbing up to a Coldplay-esque crest that's more meek than rousing, the majority of "Yellowcard" offers a nice variety of sounds. // 7
Lyrics: Still dishing out his lovey-dovey subject matter, Ryan Key's lyrics in "Yellowcard" gravitate towards themes of reconciliation, resolution, and closure, likely to run in synch with the status of the album being the band's last. With songs like "Got Yours" and "A Place We Set Afire" highlighting the importance of those going their separate ways for their own sake, Key's messages of rebuilding bridges in "Rest in Peace" ("Could we forgive somehow, could we let it rest in peace?") and "Leave a Light On" ("Don't let the past become the reason you're not here / I hope to see the day you're walking up the drive / To come back inside") applies just as much to former paramours as it does his former bandmates whom he hopes can put past conflicts aside. In more direct references to the subject of the band's run and impending breakup, however, Key doesn't shy away from chiding the fickle feelings of listeners who have derided Yellowcard from not sticking to their classic style and material in "Savior's Robes" ("Play us a song I know / Make it an older one / Don't you get it?"), though that still doesn't stop him from voicing his gratitude for all the support throughout their career in "What Appears" ("Slow steady hands waving their last goodbye / They've come a long way / They've carried me, they've carried me through waking dreams"). // 7
Overall Impression: With the last several Yellowcard albums displaying an ebb and flow of aspirations to make music beyond their signature pop punk style, their very last album effort of "Yellowcard" succeeds in finding a happy medium between their familiar strengths and new sonic endeavors. Not every moment is a hit, but between the substantial pop punk moments and the handful of different genres brought to the table, Yellowcard's desire to create an eclectic and full-bodied record finally hits the mark in "Yellowcard," ending the band's discography on a victorious note. // 8
Joshua Garcia, on october 22, 2016 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Following the 2014 album "Lift a Sail," Yellowcard return for a final stand on their latest self-titled album, "Yellowcard." Rather than trying to experiment or grow as a band, this album serves less as a follow up album and more as a farewell album that represents what the band has always been about. Varying from the pop-punk sound that gets you jumping to the slower rhythmic jams that calm your soul and everything in between, this is the very best of the Yellowcard you've come to know and love.
Making this almost immediately apparent, the opening track "Rest in Peace" starts off strong, with Ryan Key seamlessly transitioning from an acoustic, pop sounding verse that builds up to a chorus full of that distinctive pop-punk rhythm that utilizes the best of guitarist Ryan Mendez, violinist Sean Mackin and bassist Josh Portman's work. All without missing a beat and setting a good tone for the rest of the album. In a similar fashion, the same can be said for the songs "A Place We Set Afire" and "Empty Streets," basically using the same formula that made "Ocean Avenue" such a big success. The single "The Hurt Is Gone" isn't anything too complex, musically. In fact, it may be one of the simpler songs on the album. But the rhythm and beat of it makes it work really well and is easily one of the most catchiest songs on the album. Moving on to a more ambient setting that may especially appeal to fans of their 2014 album "Lift a Sail," "What Appears" has an instant hook with a slightly more heavier chorus and guitar work while maintaining a spacious atmosphere, but it doesn't alienate older listeners. Speaking of heavier, "Got Yours" and "Savior's Robes" are the fast and heavy punk-rock sounding tracks on the album and aren't for the faint of heart, but may bring a sense of familiarity with some Yellowcard veterans.
As far as ballads go, Yellowcard are no strangers, and that's where "Leave a Light On" comes in. Although a piano ballad isn't nearly as common, Ryan Key makes it work, and, given the right mood, is an enjoyable listen. Lastly, we have the acoustics, "I'm a Wrecking Ball" and "Fields & Fences." The former has much more of a pop, folk, boot stomping feel to it with lyrics that fit the song. Perhaps one of the only songs where they seem to step out of their comfort zone, though the result is fairly decent. The latter, "Fields & Fences," takes the high road, with the first half of the song taking a more tranquil approach with a smoothening melody until the second half when the guitars and drums come into play, creating a more energetic tone. It particularly reminds me of material you might find on their 2012 album "Southern Air." It makes for a very powerful and touching closing song.
Simply put, it's fairly easy to picture any one of these songs on a different prior album, and that's a good thing. Musically, their last efforts match up incredibly well with what they set out to make. That is, an album that, old and new, simply defines the name, "Yellowcard." // 9
Lyrics: There's a lot more to saying goodbye forever than just saying it. There's a certain weight to it. You need to add a lot of depth. Lyrically, they explore that depth in this album.
Starting things off, the opening track "Rest in Peace," for example, shows how you need to make amends with everyone you may have wronged, so you can look back with nothing to regret. "A Place We Set Afire," for example, seems to be the most self-aware song on the album and practically make references to the breakup and moving on with lyrics like "You tell me there must be a little light left flickering, burning in a place we set afire. But no one will listen if we just wait here to burn. We gotta swing away, gotta cut the wire." And "Empty Streets," for example, shows the importance of moving on from a positive point of view; embracing what you've accomplished and how grateful you are to have earned that place in history. And finally, when all is said and done, there's a need to reassure yourself that you know who you are and you know where your headed, which is covered in the song "What Appears." Overall, to say goodbye forever, you need to express how truly grateful you are to the people who made everything possible and for everything they've done, as well as reflect on all the memories you've made together.
Though it mostly serves as a farewell album, realizing this to be their last opportunity to say what they have to say, they didn't skimp out on providing their own final thoughts either. There's a range of messages that obviously have a lot of personal meaning. "The Hurt Is Gone" is an inspirational song that explains the importance of accepting who you are. "Savior's Robes" on the other hand, seems to be a direct and aggressive attack on the music industry in general, calling it a "devil in a savior's robes." But also still offering a hint of gratitude, saying "Still I feel I need to give you thanks. You took my edge, sharpened it in case you were the one needed cutting away."
Point being, they make sure to get personal and pack a variety of emotions and meaning on this album. And Ryan Key is just as talented at singing them as he's always been. Musically, all of which have an appropriate setting to them as well. Although the main message throughout the whole album is naturally pretty straight forward and simple, they still manage to be fairly creative with it lyrically. // 7
Overall Impression: Though it may leave a bittersweet feeling, Yellowcard's final, appropriately self-titled album delivers the best of their classic, signature sound found throughout previous albums. Every track contains a little of the roots and branches of everything they've ever been. Farewell's aside, this album was clearly made with the fans in mind. Whether you've been a fan from the start or later on down the road, they make sure not to betray your expectations on this one. Even if you only enjoyed select albums, it deserves a good listen and earns a solid place among any fans' collection.
All in all, with this being their final release, their legacy will be well preserved. // 8