Review Summary: Connection, Emotion, Acceptance.
Every time I'm feeling reflective I always opt for a meaningful album, something legendary in either concept or emotion. We (as human beings) all have our little guilty pleasures, bands and records we would defend with our very lives.
Paper Walls is one such selection for me...
Yellowcard is another.
At this point in their careers, the underground, underrated five-some are busily recovering from a split fan-base. Those who loved the energy of 'Ocean Avenue' dismissed 2006's 'Lights and Sounds' as an identity crisis, as a nuclear bomb, as a failed experiment. Fans of the latter saw 'Lights and Sounds' as a necessary step towards a golden, gleaming light and a welcome shake of the rattle.
Both sides can breathe easy at the result.
"I feel things changing when I move."
'Takedown' charges into the fray with a killer guitar riff and superb drumming - harnessing the emotional power of 'Ocean Avenue' and the raw rocky side of 'Lights and Sounds' Ryan Key is at his best here, he dances with the verses and chorus, nary a stutter or a whine to be found.
'Fighting' Also proves to be a stronghold in itself, relate-able and easy to access, with a strong mentality. What do we really fight for in relationships? does the other half feel our emotions when the world is collapsing around us? The violin triumphs here as a driving force, Key himself has never sounded more determined.
The next four songs are a mixed bag of melody... 'Shrink The World' is slightly disappointing after such a strong and exciting start. 'Keeper' is a long lasting, beautiful piece with a shining vocal performance. 'Light Up The Sky' isn't the greatest lyrical triumph of Yellowcard's career but succeeds in painting a picture. However, If Paper Walls has a heart it beats with 'Shadows And Regrets' a highlight and exceptional ballad about the past we all want to return to: featuring the warming but solemn sound of church bells.
Whilst tracks seven through twelve are indeed special, none quite catapult the album to new heights than the title track 'Paper Walls' a choir, the secret regret, saying goodbye, the heartbreaking promise. This song has a lot lying in it's crusty shell, interpreted by all in different ways. As a closer it succeeds, we indeed have much to think about.
Whilst 'Paper Walls' is considered a classic in my hands, I'm aware of the few snags that this disc holds. Like a paper house, the existence is fragile in the hands of tracks eleven and twelve - at times the album droops and fades away depending on your mood and which group of songs grab you're attention the quickest. 'Dear Bobbie' can bring a tear to the eye but would fall flat if it had to steer the entire album. Likewise with 'Cut Me Mick' Every song has a special quality that won't become apparent to every person and without the passion of the earlier songs, one would not be prepared for the later ones.
'Paper Walls' therefore can be considered a journey: either a roller-coaster ride or a wonderful listen, sprawled out underneath the night sky. With the excellent skills of Ryan Key, Sean Mackin and Longinue W. Parsons once again stepping into the spotlight. An album that feels dark and light, that holds shadows and regrets, that hides behind paper walls.
Yellowcard have crafted something fantastic and will live on in memory for years to come.