Review Summary: After a two year hiatus, Yellowcard returns with a bang in 2011 with When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes.
This album highlights everything Yellowcard's music is about with its simple, hard-hitting and catchy songs. Yellowcard broke into the mainstream with Ocean Avenue, their 2003 release and have finally returned to the style presented in that album. Ocean Avenue is characterized by its upbeat and poppy tracks that you can't help nod your head to and sing along with. When You're Through Thinking is the first album since then to provide that ear-candy that other recent albums lacked. Their 2006 release Lights and Sounds was an absolute masterpiece, but it was also a more experimental, mature sounding album and 2007's Paper Walls was an unremarkable album that seemed to try a little too hard. After the band's hiatus and reformation, When You're Through Thinking comes at a perfect time to once again establish Yellowcard's name in this genre.
The album is about moving forward with one eye still on the past and the experiences that have shaped us so far. It reminds us not to dwell on the past, as influential as it may be in our lives. This theme is emphasized on the first track "The Sound of You and Me," where Ryan Key proclaims "I've never been more ready to move on." When You're Through Thinking is also layered with themes from older albums such as love, youth and growing up.
The first half of the album hooks you in with several great songs that are instant classics for this band. The first thing I noticed was that the use of violin is very prominent on this album, which is great because it's one of the attributes that defines Yellowcard's music. It really shines on the second track "For You and Your Denial," where the song opens with a great lick from the violinist, Sean Mackin and moves on to him providing a complimentary and melodic backing to a song that hits hard. The third track "With You Around" is probably the best on the album; it is incredibly catchy and incredibly satisfying. The song then fades into a ballad, "Hang You Up," which is very sentimental and is a perfect break from the heavier songs only to be followed by another beautiful performance in "Life of Leaving Home."
The second half of the album doesn't stand out nearly as much as the first half during the first few listens. The next several songs seem to blend together and aren't very outstanding. "Hide" and "Soundtrack" are good songs, but they are the most forgettable on the album. The ballad "Sing for Me," is a little boring. However, When You're Through Thinking ends on a strong note with "See Me Smiling" and "Be The Young" which are two more uplifting and heavier songs that Yellowcard fans will love.
When You're Through Thinking doesn't have that same radio-friendly style as Ocean Avenue, but it is clearly an album that will stand out in this band's history in the same way that Ocean Avenue does. Its songs are inspiring, optimistic and almost addictive. It's a step back from the darker themed Lights and Sounds, but it is a definite step forward for this band who has proven they can still rock after a disappointing release in 2007 and a indefinite hiatus until 2010. Especially under these circumstances, When You're Through Thinking is a classic already and has re-defined the sound that makes Yellowcard such a great band. It's a must have for older fans and (along with Ocean Avenue) a good starting point for newer fans.