Yellowcard – ‘Yellowcard’

By Chris Hilson

Rather than make an out of the blue post-album statement about their split, Yellowcard announced back in June of this year that their forthcoming album would be their last. And here it is, ten eagerly anticipated songs delivered with the bittersweet knowledge that this is the end.

Following their hiatus, Yellowcard certainly seemed to be building up some momentum with ‘When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes’ and ‘Southern Air’ both being emphatic returns to form, but 2014’s ‘Lift A Sail’ saw a shift in styles that left many feeling hesitant about which Yellowcard would show up for their final album.

Certainly ‘Rest In Peace’ wastes no time in offering forth all the classic Yellowcard elements, with solid riffs and drumming underpinning the weaving violin of Sean Mackin and the recognisable vocals of Ryan Key. The words tell a story of a relationship come to an end, but given the circumstances it could easily be a farewell to the fans. However, it’s the lyrics of ‘A Place We Set Afire’ that are among the most expressive, with Sean Mackin’s violin work adding an emotional edge and lines such as “We don’t have to say goodbye, but we can’t get lost in time” sounding more emotionally loaded than usual. ‘Got Yours’ is fuelled by an exciting urgency that recent material suggested Yellowcard were moving away from, and fans who fell in love with their older material are certainly going to appreciate it.

The infectious energy and burning desire present in the first set of songs doesn’t run throughout each track and ‘Leave A Light On’ is a thoughtful and composed strings and piano ballad that initially seems to split the album in two. That ‘The Hurt Is Gone’ stretches its ideas out over the course of six and a half minutes suggests that Yellowcard are set to indulge their more expansive and experimental side again. This impression is strengthened by the fact that ‘Empty Street’, for all its lyrical and musical positivity, lacks the punch that shaving a minute off the running time would have given it. However the split in styles isn’t absolute, with ‘Savior’s Robes’ providing a brilliant and fired-up dose of melodic punk that briefly evolves into a soundscape of drawn out guitars, strings, and echoey vocals before returning to form.

It’s been clear for years now that Yellowcard were never going to make ‘Ocean Avenue Part Two’ and every song is written and delivered with a self-confidence that must be applauded. The gradual shift in style away from pop-punk has never been for the sake of it, and album closer ‘Fields And Fences’, effectively the last song you will hear from Yellowcard, is, more than anything, the sound of a band completely and utterly comfortable in their own skin.

Self-titling an album can sometimes lead to accusations of laziness or arrogance, but in this case it’s very fitting, serving as a full stop at the end of a long and well-regarded career. Even though ‘Yellowcard’ may not be the career-defining swansong that it had the potential to be, every moment of it is played with honest integrity. There are some instantly brilliant songs here and some that will grow in stature over time. It remains to be seen what direction each member takes in the future, but Yellowcard have certainly left a musical legacy to be proud of.

 

CHRIS HILSON

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