Yes I know, Yellowcard, average pop-punk with a violin in there somewhere. I thought so too, with a weird name and a high-pitched voice singing the lyrics. However, I heard “Ocean Avenue" (the song) everywhere on TV and radio. I heard “Way Away" at my friend’s house while on his computer. I heard “Only One" at a mall somewhere. I heard “Miles Apart" when my friend sent it to me. I was attached.
I’m not saying this is a classic album; it is far from being that. However, this is what pop-punk should be: catchy. Except these guys have an obvious violinist, and he actually makes the songs more interesting. Once again, I swear I saw a review on this, but it’s not here any more. It’s a good album and I’ll tell you why.
Around here where I live, pop-punk lovers (I like pop-punk, just not a die-hard fan) love these guys because “they’re so damn catchy and are the best pop-punk band ever!!!" I wouldn’t go that far, as I would give that honor to a band like Green Day or Sum 41. Anyway, I heard this album everywhere and borrowed it off one of those fanboys. And I was not too disappointed to say the least.
Ryan Key: lead vocals and guitar 2
- A decent vocalist who plays an OK guitar. His lyrics are pretty good, above average but nothing spectacular on most songs. His singing voice is on the high side, but that’s what most pop-punk bands have.
Sean Mackin: violin, background vocals (I think he’s lead singer in Twenty-Three)
- Yes, he plays violin, but that’s OK because I do too. He plays a really good violin he’s a solid background singer too.
Benjamin Harper: guitar 1
- This guy pretty much plays lots of power chords with no solos. This may sound bad, but I guess you can say he fits the music they make?
Longineu W. Parsons III: drums
- This man here is the highlight of the band. His drumming is very, and I mean very, solid. He can do a drum roll all day, he plays strange beats and rhythms, he has fast arms and fingers, and he has endurance, and lots of it.
One of the first songs I started listening to were “Way Away" and “Ocean Avenue." Way Away was on MLB Live 2005 (I think the year was 2005) and I really liked it for its chorus. It wasn’t on my playlist for long because it got old, but it was good. Ocean Avenue, to say the least, was huge. Everyone knows this song, and for good reason. Its catchy chorus, simple palm muted guitar strong singing and occasional violin mesh perfectly. But, this, like Way Away, got old, but this was on my playlist for a few weeks. The other single was Only One, and I believe that’s it. Yellowcard show their soft side here, talking about love and “You are my only one." During my first spins of the CD, I said, “Hey I like that song with that chorus." I listened again and had no idea which song I was talking about, for all of them have good choruses. Anyway, this one has a nice loud one and its lyrics are very sweet over the power chords. There’s a viola in there with Sean’s violin, which also blend in and make a very nice solo.
Other notables on the CD besides the singles are “Miles Apart", “View from Heaven," “Inside Out," “Life of a Salesman" and “Believe." The violin in all of these is obvious, and so are the choruses. Miles Apart is my second favorite song off the album because of its loud and catchy-as-hell chorus, good breakdown on the bridge and strong backing vocals by Sean. “View from Heaven" sounds like a folk song with the folk-y violin in the beginning. However, this isn’t folk at all. They have to get another backing singer (Alieke Wijnveldt) for this one because Sean can’t hit those high notes. The song has another good chorus, but the guitar isn’t really that noticeable in most of the song. “Inside Out" is notable because of, again, the chorus. However, this one isn’t fast like the others. It’s a bit slower, with strong and loud power chords over some good drumming. “Life of a Salesman" is very catchy and fast-paced and is very attractive. If you know me, I don’t like offbeat songs, and this one is. However, it doesn’t make this song bad. It’s interesting and every once in a while, there’s a little guitar riff going slowly from one ear to the other and back again. The backing vocals are sensational and make the song much better.
And now for “Believe". This song made me want to review this album, because it’s just...so good. At first, it sounds like it’s a pop-punk song, just with a violin starting it. But, this is really a spectacular song. The lyrics are about 9/11, and living in New York, I was touched and really could relate to it, since I lost quite a few acquaintances and friends, even a family member. Anyway, this is by far the best song on the album because the lyrics touch, the violin is strong, the drums are very solid and the guitars are loud. That’s pretty much all you need for a perfect song. Here are the lyrics, but I didn’t want to put the whole song here so you can go if you want.
Even with all that, this album is far from perfect. Some of the weaker songs are “Breathing," “Empty Apartment," “Twenty Three," and “One Year, Six Months." Although “Breathing" and “Twenty Three" are each decently catchy, they never appealed to me and I never got into them. Twenty Three has horrible lyrics, like they were written by a 12 year old (i.e. we’re twenty three and you’re still mad at me) “Empty Apartment" is a soft song and it shows Yellowcard’s weakness. They tried to make a ballad, but it’s boring and not interesting at all. This song might grow on you a little and it did a bit on me. Some upsides are that it does have the drumming of LP and an average chorus. “One Year, Six Months" is an acoustic song, and even for that fact, it is fast and a better song than Empty Apartment. The guitar seems simple, but when you listen to it more carefully, they are complicated and catchy. The backing vocals are good as well, but it doesn’t have drums.
-Violin adds interesting touch
-Good backing vocals
-Lots of catchy choruses
-Need a better guitarist, or at least make Ben play some solos
-Too many weak songs
-They don’t have a bass player?
Yes, I know this is a Yellowcard album, and if you got through the review, I thank you. The songs aren’t bad at all. It’s pop-punk, and even though that may turn you off, it’s not bad. I did list four weak songs, and I think that is a few too many, which is why I’m giving the album the grade I will give it. However, the good songs like “Believe" really make this album listenable.
Overall Album Rating: 3/5