When you’re through thinking, say yes.
When Yellowcard is mentioned in roundtable discussion of modern music, many people have reservations, having grown out of the group’s music. As if that high school memory of the cool summer breeze flowing through your hair, when you tasted your first bit of adolescent freedom while listening to Ocean Avenue, is all too distant.
With its new album, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, the band hopes to quench your nostalgia, yet lure you forward with a clean slate to be the soundtrack of new memories. And like a slow song starting to accelerate, the new album, which will be released Tuesday, dashes through the toils and snares of our youth and makes us sing until our voices strain.
It’s not too distant of a memory – it was only in 2004 that the band enjoyed the success of the platinum album Ocean Avenue,which earned Yellowcard a place on the national stage. At that time, they weren’t associated with a lot of the bands that came afterward, such as My Chemical Romance. Instead, it was discussed among some critics and among fans that the band was the next Blink 182.
Unfortunately, in 2006, with its move to abandon the sound that defined so many summers with the sophomore album Lights and Sounds, the lights began to dim and the sound of screaming fans started
In 2007, Yellowcard released Paper Walls, but the road the band members helped pave had left them behind as Paramore’s success stole their thunder. Shortly after the album dropped, Capitol stopped promoting the band and awaited the band’s exit from the label, despite many critics calling Paper Walls its finest work. Yellowcard’s final tour under Capitol Records was filled with songs from the members’ indie days and was almost like a symphony exit of a sinking ship pushing the band to indefinite hiatus.
Fast forward to 2010, with new label Hopeless Records and new member Sean O’Donnell, the former singer of Reeve Oliver, the band looked to embrace the fans it may have left behind. Lead singer, Ryan Key, told artist Ben Folds in an online interview that the energy for the new record would be one that would bring the intimacy between the fans and the band back to fruition.
With all the pieces back in place – Longineu Parsons on the drums, Ryan Mendez on lead guitar, O’Donnell on the bass, Sean Mackin on the violin and Key as the front man – a new record was within grasp.
There was another member of the band that was missing: producer Neal Avron, who is dubbed “Yellowcard’s sixth man.” Avron has a long resume with big name artists, from Sara Bareilles to Linkin Park, from Weezer to the Wallflowers magnum opus Bringing Down the Horse. His hands can be felt pushing the band to its best in When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes.
From the opening song “The Sound of Me and You,” the band gives the vibes of early Yellowcard, with the beats of Parsons keeping the pace while dueling guitars set the rhythm and the ripping violin fills the void.
The band makes a plea, “let me back in, love me again,” then breaks down funneling into the second track and its first single “For You and Your Denial,” with an all too familiar violin introduction remnant of the track “Breathing” from Ocean Avenue. This time, the band confronted its past struggles and never looked back.
The album doesn’t beg for your attention for too long because it doesn’t need to. The album doesn’t deal with abstracts but with human emotion. The songs are sure to bring a smile to your face, if not for the lyrics, than for the memories they spark.
I don’t think this is Yellowcard’s greatest album, but you probably missed that one when you were busy growing up. Instead, the album comes full circle, attempting to take you on a journey through the pathos of your youth, while writing the hymns of your present memories. So, whether you’re running underneath the California sun, or just looking for melodies in the air, push play, say yes.