Yellowcard
Paper Walls


3.0
good

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
July 16th, 2007 | 70 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Good pop-punk hindered by shaky production and songs that bring nothing new to the band's sound.

It is no secret that throughout the 90s and the current decade, the music industry has pushed volume levels higher and higher. What many musicologists are discovering, however, is that this increase in volume is actually decreasing the audio quality. Everything simply becomes one ambiguous, distorted sound. The music industry has forgotten that the end users of their products have volume knobs too, and in a world where we put our music right against our eardrums, the increase in volume looks bad for our hearing 30 years down the road. But I digress; the topic at hand here is Yellowcard’s Paper Walls. The band seemingly came out of nowhere with a succession of breakthrough singles from the album Ocean Ave. - “Way Away”, the title track “Ocean Ave.” and “Only One”. With a strong pop punk sound laced with surprisingly good violin, it seemed Yellowcard had found a small niche in the overflowing, generic pop punk world. Soaking in my preteen angst, I loved Ocean Ave. After continuing their success with Lights and Sounds, Yellowcard returns with Paper Walls, trying to ride the successful formula they have proven with their previous two albums.

Let us return to the problem stated at the beginning of the review. Paper Walls is a clear example of too much noise, too little clarity. The entire album maxes out the EQ, even the acoustic, supposedly softer songs. This problem becomes apparent within seconds of the album’s beginning. “The Takedown” begins with a simple guitar riff and the rest of the band comes hammering in, with drummer Longineu W. Parsons III, as he prefers to be called, producing a lot of energy. Unfortunately, he drowns out just about everything around him, as the rest of the band’s music is way too simple compared to his drumming style. On the next song, “Fighting”, he plays with Ryan Key’s vocal melody, oddly enough, and while the drumming is creative and tight, it takes away from the melody of Key’s singing. Parsons continually proves himself the most talented member of the band, and it seems that the band limits him, always having to push them along and keep the energy up.

Sadly, the production covers up the only claim to originality that the band has ever had, their violinist Sean Mackin. On earlier releases, Mackin nearly took the role of lead guitarist, most notably on songs like “Breathing”, but here, he becomes slightly more than background noise. Upon listening closely, he produces excellent countermelody as always, but it is so hard to hear and never comes out to the forefront unless he doubles the lead guitar. One of his few moments to shine comes on “Five Becomes Four”, an energetic, pop-punk song where the band finally counterbalances Parsons’ drumming. Easily the best executed song on the album, it keeps energy throughout the entire song. While I was hoping the song might have been a sly reference to some shifting time signatures, it is apparently about former guitarist Ben Harper leaving the band. The only other highlight is the dramatic album closer “Paper Walls”. It begins with light acoustic and angelic female vocals, but quickly becomes another well-executed Yellowcard song. Mackin gets another chance to shine, and the guitar riffs are actually memorable. Here, Parsons plays back for the band, not making complex bass drum accents and simply giving a beat to the band.

Yellowcard deserves some credit for Paper Walls. The band has a tight sound and surprisingly good chemistry with their constantly shifting lineup. Parsons is the only original member of the band left. Still, they’re writing the same songs that broke through the charts in 2003. What’s more, their lead single “Light Up the Sky” is devoid of catchy hooks and sounds like everyday pop punk. No matter what genre you fall into, sounding like the rest of the pack is never a good thing. “You and Me and One Spotlight” is just a poorly written song, a mundane midtempo crooner. Still, as a whole, the album is a well-executed pop punk album and shows that Yellowcard are better than the average band. If you want to hear their best, however, look elsewhere, because they’ve done better.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Otisbum
July 16th 2007


1912 Comments


Nice review. I had hoped this would be a step up from LAS.

ToWhatEnd
July 16th 2007


3172 Comments


Yeah definitely a good review. Their drummer is a beast and makes them stick out a bit above everyday pop punk but I never really became a huge fan of these guys. Might check this out because I liked what I have heard so far.

Cesar
July 16th 2007


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

You are right, Yellowcard's drummer is one of the most underrated because of the band he plays in.
I liked Lights and Sound more, but this one is good to, 3.5/5.

With few exeptions this album is conistenly solid, but doesn't quite gets to be a standout. Didn't reached my expectations which disappointed me. Still, Fighting is definetly one of the best songs Yellowcard has ever done, it is just awesome.This Message Edited On 07.16.07

Willie
Moderator
July 16th 2007


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yellowcard has the same thing that Blink 182 had... mostly average pop-punk songs, but with a drummer that is so good and creative that he almost single-handedly pushes them to that next level. I'll take the complex drumming even if it means losing something in Key's vocals.

Good review too.

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

dub sean
July 16th 2007


980 Comments


What does the Cut Me, Mick song sound like? Is it a violent, Rocky fight song?

Intransit
July 16th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was again pleasantly surprised by this album. Not in the League of Lights and Sounds, but very good all the same. It's a pop-punk album, and a wonderfully executed one at that. It just sorta suffers from the fact that it's Yellowcard and when they don't jam pack an album with variety, it gets a little tiring.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 17th 2007


3768 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Aw, i hoped this was better than Lights and Sounds. Oh well.

tribestros
July 17th 2007


918 Comments


Seems to me that Yellowcard is getting into harder punk music.This Message Edited On 07.17.07

Hatshepsut
July 17th 2007


1997 Comments


I read about the thing on your intro in a news article somewhere. it's nice to have proof here, great work.
I've recently realized Ocean Avenue is amazing when it's good and awful when it's bad. Lights and Sounds is similar, though I haven't listened to it all that much. I'm gonna get this, but my expectations aren't that high anymore due to your review.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 18th 2007


3995 Comments


[quote=Tyler]Summary: Good pop-punk [/quote]

Really? Yellowcard has never even been pop-punk before, just mostly pop. Is something different this time around?

Intransit
July 18th 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Actually, this is much more pop-punk than their previous offerings. Some of the guitar work on this is really pretty kickin'.

DepthsOfDreams555
July 18th 2007


55 Comments


Great great review. I have to say though that LP's drumming while very good, gets slightly repetitive on this album.

samthebassman
July 22nd 2007


2164 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Easily their best album, but wish they would learn to let their music breathe a little, if they can do that I think they will one hell of a band.

rustysurf84
August 11th 2007


327 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty solid effort, as good as Ocean Avenue easily.

timmeh37
August 20th 2007


11 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is way better than L&S and OA, because they combined the energy and intensity of OA and the hard edges of L&S. I agree they could've made the violin a little more audible, but otherwise its a good solid effort done with the great longtime producer Neal Avron and mixer Tom Lord-Alge.

Cesar
August 20th 2007


2732 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I need to listen to this again; see if it grows on me more.This Message Edited On 08.20.07

Willie
Moderator
August 20th 2007


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't listen to it too much or it will just get boring... its good about once a week or so... more then that, and it starts to be stale...

Greenblink
October 5th 2007


12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Better then L&S, but no where close to Ocean Avenue.

Willie
Moderator
October 5th 2007


16019 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I just had to go back and lower my score for this album... my initial reaction to this album had more to do with happiness over it not being L&S II, I guess.

PhoenixRising
October 5th 2007


277 Comments


Violin is so punk rock.



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