Review Summary: And all the fans cheer and join in unison: Yes
I recently had the pleasure of dangling my copy of Yellowcard’s When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
in front of a friend of mine, a girl that is probably one of Yellowcard’s most avid fans. Remember when we were fourteen, I asked her, when we’d lie out on your grandmother’s trampoline and talk about guys, for you, and girls, for me? We’d always play Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue
in the background on your CD player, letting Ryan Key’s vocals, those energetic guitars and drums, and Sean Mackin’s violin create the soundtrack for our memories – chiefly consisting of love, leaving home, and naivety
. Of course, she said, feels like it was just yesterday. Well, remember how we wanted Yellowcard to make another album like that for us? How 2006’s Lights and Sounds
was a step in a more mature rock direction, but didn’t transition well enough on record? Or how 2007’s Paper Walls
tried too hard for its own good?
I smiled and pressed: Do you know what I have here, figuratively, in my hands?
When You’re Through Thinking
is the Yellowcard album that fans have, literally, been screaming for the band to make since their mainstream breakthrough eight years ago. It’s got the energy, the violin prevalence – so long to the days of thick, drowning production values – and those simple yet profound lyrics by vocalist/guitarist Ryan Key that make you think a little harder on the love-life topic than usual. In the conclusion of the rip-roaring opener, “The Sound of You and Me”, the singer invites the listener to “Let me back in / Love me again”, an apology of sorts for the delay in delivering their Summer Album Vol 2
, all before the band lets loose with a crunchy, fervent breakdown. It’s sincere, carrying with it the weight of a few un-sure years of wondering for Yellowcard in their trying to find their feet again since Ocean Avenue
’s release. With When You’re Through Thinking
, Yellowcard have finally found them.
This will not be the return to the mainstream for Yellowcard, though. As hook-y and as catchy as When You’re Through Thinking
is, it’s not a radio record. Instead Ryan Key and crew have focused on writing a strong collection of pop-rock songs, more intent on recalling nostalgia for the listener than being arena rockers – or Billboard singles, rather. You hear in first single “For You and Your Denial” Ocean Avenue
’s “Believe”, the lead violin line firmly sticking itself into your noggin; in “With You Around” Key lyrically recalls hit single “Only One” of the same record; and in “See Me Smiling”, the band go from a passionate second chorus into a build not so unlike that of “Gifts and Curses”, Yellowcard’s stellar inclusion to the Spiderman 2
soundtrack. The record bleeds with the best that Yellowcard have done thus far, yet in a fresh context, bursting with newfound energy after a short hiatus that, in hindsight, was certainly needed.
You can argue that Yellowcard settle into a too-comfortable groove from start to finish on When You’re Through Thinking
, leaving a middle section that lacks punch and has little to distinguish itself from the rest of the tracks present. “Hide” and “Soundtrack” are the first songs to come to mind, in context of the record fitting well with the mood of making the best of things, but as individual tracks not offering that much other than a likable hook. “Sing For Me” is the album’s ballad and is also a little on the saccharine side, Key’s exclamation’s of “Just close your eyes and sing for me” in the chorus coming as a letdown after the tracks more promising verses. “See Me Smiling” picks up after this with a fury, though, being arguably the album’s strongest track in which choruses and verses collide with the best Yellowcard have to offer instrumentally. “Be the Young”, too, is soaring and anthemic, Key declaring that youth lives on eternally and that “we’ll forever be the young”.
Sure, there’s still a bit of naivety to Yellowcard’s music in When You’re Through Thinking
, but that’s one of the reasons why we enjoyed them as teens in the first place. They are once again looking for the best in life, talking about love, and are doing it all behind passionate and energetic music, just like they did years ago on Ocean Avenue
. That’s what the fans wanted from this reunion album, right, an album that reminded us about their breakthrough? Yes, we did, and while it may not get Yellowcard back into the mainstream, a place that they still have the potential to take back, as a record made for the fans, When You’re Through Thinking
is everything that we could have wanted. The band sounds fresh from their rest, aren’t trying to be something they’re not again, and most importantly, they sound young and sincere. Welcome back, Yellowcard.