Review Summary: A pleasant retread of one of 2011’s best pop-punk albums.
I have always found acoustic renditions of albums to be polarizing. In many ways, hearing your favorite song stripped down to its core can be immensely satisfying. On the other hand, it can ruin the relationship that you currently have with that track, obliterating your fond associations and leaving you desiring the original. Then on top of that, you have to consider whether or not it is worth purchasing what is essentially the same album twice. So when I saw that Yellowcard released a track-for-track acoustic variation of When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
, I had my share of doubts. And while not all of my reservations have been put at ease, I can still safely say that this is a worthy component to stand alongside 2011’s pop-punk album of the year.
With When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes
’ acoustic version, we get all ten songs from the original record, reworked and re-recorded to sound even more intimate. Like with any acoustic song, the vocals play a more prominent role in the mix, and here Ryan Key proves that he can handle the challenge. Songs that already had a down tempo acoustic feel, such as ‘Hang You Up’, are given an extra burst by Key’s spot-on vocals and ever-present poignancy. The faster tracks, however, are really where you will earn the most bang for your buck: ‘The Sound of You and Me’, ‘With You Around’, and ‘Soundtrack’ present us with the most innovative takes on the originals, and unlike some of the songs on this record, they vary the chords, beat, and tempo to create something completely unique. Another big plus here is how the lyrics are given an opportunity to shine. Obviously nothing has changed, but the atmosphere of the standard album doesn’t offer listeners the same emotional proximity that this does. With a simpler, slower sound comes more easily decipherable lines, and that makes this acoustic album the way to go for listeners who want something easy to relate to.
The drawbacks here are pretty straightforward, and they aren’t out of the ordinary when you consider the inherent weaknesses of any strictly acoustic
album. For one, songs that were already performed acoustically, like ‘Sing For Me’, fail to bring anything new to the table. It is extremely difficult to rework a song by recording it in a nearly identical fashion, and although Yellowcard puts forth a valiant effort, they don’t come anywhere close to creating a worthwhile component to the original. Another thing that will disappoint some fans is how the acoustic strums and picking tend to be pretty uniform throughout. Even though they sound as crisp as ever, they seem to march along right on schedule without taking much time to alter the song. And that may be okay, because attempting to deviate too much can yield disastrous and unrecognizable results. But it would have been nice to see Yellowcard mix things up a little more than they did, even if it was just for the sake of creating a sense of novelty to distinguish this album from the other acoustic remakes out there.
That isn’t to say that this is just another acoustic album
though, because it is definitely so much more. If nothing else, the quality of the songwriting puts this on a higher level than the majority of Yellowcard’s peers. Then, once you factor in the transparent chemistry between band members and the amazing production they get from Neal Avron, you have yourself a thoroughly enjoyable and pleasantly relaxing acoustic album. So put this record on and kick back, and when you’re through listening…listen again!