Big If
The Demo Years


4.0
excellent

Review

by Sowing STAFF
July 8th, 2024 | 29 replies


Release Date: 06/27/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Avid followers of Yellowcard can now add another collector’s item to their repertoire.

Casual Yellowcard fans can be forgiven for not knowing the story of Big If. The side-project existed from 2008-2010 during the band’s hiatus that occurred between the release Paper Walls and When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes. Consisting of vocalist Ryan Key and Reeve Oliver’s Sean O’Donnell, the pair spawned a series of demos – none of which were officially released until the summer of 2024. With fourteen songs spanning just under one hour, avid followers of Yellowcard can now add another collector’s item to their repertoire.

The Demo Years sounds the part of a full-fledged album. The production is great, and the tracks sound finished. You don’t need to look any farther than the soaring, wistful melody of ‘Monster’, the earnest pleas of ‘Always Almost’ – replete with borderline gruff inflections from Key, or the insanely memorable finale in ‘Bunny and Me’. The songs are noticeably more youthful than any modern Yellowcard output, which makes sense when you take the era into consideration – as an esteemed colleague of mine said, “It’s basically like having a new YC album from 2010.” Of course, it’s prudent to remember that Sean Mackin wasn’t a part of Big If, so The Demo Years sound a little less like a Yellowcard purist’s dream and a little more like a Yellowcard adjacent pop-punk act – but it’s a very good one at that.

The primary appeal here is undoubtedly all the “new” old material, but it’s also interesting to hear some of the songs that went on to become Yellowcard LP tracks. ‘Bug Light’ went on to become Southern Air’s opener ‘Awakening’. ‘Whereabouts Unknown’ turned into the fan-favorite curtain call ‘Be The Young’, only with slightly altered lyrics (“All the best ones fade away / So fake a smile if you can, everyone is watching / And you’re just here to entertain”) – marking a decidedly more sour and jaded mentality than the nostalgic, uplifting rocker it managed to evolve into. Similarly, longtime listeners may be thrown for a loop at the verse change in ‘Hang You Up’, where it turns out that “I’m gonna miss you everyday” was originally intended to be “Don’t say a kind word to my face”. In many ways, these songs changed for the better – but any diehard fan will be intrigued by the original state of the demos.

For being the unfinished works of a mostly forgotten side project, The Demo Years packs a surprisingly refreshing punch. It’s catchy, highly energetic, and delivers a heavy dose of nostalgia for anyone who grew up listening to pop-punk in the late 2000s or early 2010s. With Yellowcard – and really, all of pop-punk as a whole – once again trending, Key and O’Donnell chose the ideal time to unlock Big If’s vault. The Demo Years is a time capsule: simply open and enjoy.



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user ratings (11)
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
July 8th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

https://open.spotify.com/album/0Mvr4o5WBoxxj5tGxgBkLZ?si=iSW8uz5RSRuiyF4Wn-uNBQ

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2024


27993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Um, I had no idea about this lol



thx based Sowing!

Pikazilla
July 8th 2024


30446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is this available anywhere other than spotify?



tried looking the release up on bandcamp but couldn't find it

Sowing
Moderator
July 8th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@Pika try this: https://music.youtube.com/playlist?list=OLAK5uy_lCuydU95DhJuXHbvIHMUxdbH6R4e17vPI

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2024


47774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yesss great writeup



scorching hot take but Bug Light >>> Awakening

Sowing
Moderator
July 8th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oof that is scorching.

Awakening was a life changing song at a life changing moment for me, so I'll have to trust your more objective stance!

3waycrash
July 8th 2024


264 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, very nice to see this get an official release

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 8th 2024


47774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I still love Awakening a lot and I can see it having an emotional impact for sure but man. the way that melody kicks in on the bridge of Bug Light is so fucking exhilarating, shit makes me want to run through a wall



I feel like out of everything here Hang and Hide were some of the weaker songs to use on Through Thinking although I still like em

Sowing
Moderator
July 8th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Is Bunny and Me an original song? It's sooo good and easily my favorite thing here. I googled it and couldn't find anything indicating it's a cover, which makes me even more hyped about it.

tmagistrelli
July 9th 2024


854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah halfway through this now and I love it. Take this and Childhood Eyes being only EP length and I'm content till Yellowcard gets around to a full length.

bellovddd
July 9th 2024


6583 Comments


WOOOOW forgot all about Big If

Pikazilla
July 9th 2024


30446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks sowing!



but I was asking where I can purchase the release lol not just listen to it



a digital copy ofc

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2024


47774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

afaik Bunny and Me is original, apparently it's on a Sean solo album from years ago but it's not nearly as good as the version on here

Sowing
Moderator
July 9th 2024


44137 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's a good question Pika. I don't believe it's been physically released in any format, and while I haven't checked iTunes in years, I'm wondering if it could be purchased there (I see it's on Apple Music for streaming, not sure if the two platforms always mirror each other).



Good to know Row. Also, I gave Bug Light several spins and while it's good, I just don't see it topping Awakening for me personally. The lyrics on the finished version are just too good. I think Whereabouts Unknown is actually closer to topping Be The Young, which I realize is equally if not more blasphemous ;-)

bananatossing
July 9th 2024


2385 Comments


fyi it's on itunes. will definitely be listening to this later

thanks sowing!

heck
July 9th 2024


7169 Comments


big if true

Atari
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2024


27993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this made my day yesterday. time for round 2!

Pikazilla
July 9th 2024


30446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is great, yeah

DaveyMonsoon
July 9th 2024


1145 Comments


big if true [2]

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 9th 2024


47774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea lol I think that's pretty wild, Be the Young is their masterwork for me. I like the Edge style guitar on Whereabouts but the slower tempo and the more cynical lyrics don't work for me



regardless this is gonna be getting a lot of spins, maybe some of my favourite Ryan songs ever on this thing



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