Paper Walls

Written by: PP on 02/08/2007 02:32:09

I remember it like yesterday when Yellowcard posted the first new track off "Paper Walls" onto their Myspace. After the horrible "Lights And Sounds" I hadn't been expecting much, and as I was clicking onto their Myspace page I was already ready to write off the band from my mental list of bands floating between 'interesting' and 'great'. So imagine my surprise when I heard "Fighting". The passion that was absent from the previous album had returned with full force, and songwriting had gone back to the basics, into fast riffs and catchy choruses, with even the violin making a fantastic return to the forefront of their sound. The rest is history, and "Paper Walls" has become my favorite pop punk album this year so far.

You see, I hated the ultra-mainstream approach to songwriting the band had taken on their last album. I simply couldn't understand why the band thought halving song speeds and inflating their sound to be unrealistically big would bring them more fans, especially after the solid response "Ocean Avenue" received. It sounded like a heavily watered down version of the band I used to know. A typical major label debut, some might say. But enough rambling about the past, lets get on with the present shall we?

"Takedown" opens the album with a bombastic riff and a prototypical old-Yellowcard verse. The chorus rocks and catches into your mind immediately, partly because of the vivid violins that duel against the guitars, which was a feat largely missed on "Lights And Sounds". The aforementioned "Fighting" continues the violin-guitar fused pop punk godhood, and has some of the most memorable verse lines you'll hear all year. "Shrink The World" starts out like a semi-acoustic anthem, but gets into full power after the short intro and is one of the many highlights on the album. "Keeper" is a heartfelt ballad with much less speed, but nevertheless it avoids sounding cheezy and overproduced like many songs on "Lights And Sounds". "Light Up The Sky" is the kind of song that should have been on the aforementioned album, but somehow the band wasn't able to write as great of a power-pop song as this one. And although I hated the ballads on "Lights And Sounds", "Shadows And Regrets" is a ballad to die for. It provides nice contrast for the best song of the album, namely "Five Becomes The Four". Not only is it the fastest song on the record, but it also has some of the most flamboyant violin Yellowcard has written to date. It also has heartfelt lyrics: "When you are all alone with the melody, Do you close your eyes and think of me? Will you still hear me singing anymore? When five becomes four", calling out for their departed guitarist Harper. "Afraid" continues with the pace, and though it is otherwise a great song, it's a bit of a letdown from the climax of the album before. Had it been placed differently, it would be among the best tracks on the album.

As for the weaknesses, there aren't really any other than the cliché acoustic ballad "Dear Bobbie". It ruins the flow that medium-paced "Date Line (I Am Gone)" had laid out for the rest of the album. As a consequence the slower pop song "You And Me And One Spotlight" sounds worse than it should, reducing the overall grade for the album a notch. "Cut Me, Mick" and the title track end the album on a high note though, but this was clear all along from "Takedown". The passion has returned, and the instruments are tightly played as opposed to the spacey mainstream crap on the previous album. This is no doubt Yellowcard's best album thus far and probably the culmination of their career. People say a few songs make an album, so unless Yellowcard are able to top "Fighting", "Takedown" and "Five Becomes Four" on their next record, "Paper Walls" will go down in history as their best album overall. Regarding that list of mine I spoke of earlier, Yellowcard has definitely moved into the 'great' conglomeration.

Download: Five Becomes Four, Fighting, Takedown, Shadows And Regrets
For the fans of: The Starting Line, The Ataris, New Found Glory
Listen: Myspace

Release date 17.07.2007
Capitol Records

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