Written by: TL on 19/11/2016 13:45:30

The name Yellowcard is pop-punk legend, that much is a fact. Probably everyone who's heard the 2003 album "Ocean Avenue" can hum at least a handful of its tunes on command, and although the band's material has definitely been hit and miss as they've come of age, the fact that this year's self-titled album - their tenth overall - is their last, coats it in a feeling like you kind of don't want to listen to it, because once you have, then that's it. Even in this day of predictable reunions, Yellowcard have already sort of had theirs, when they came back from hiatus in 2011, so this farewell somehow feels more definitive.

As you could expect, it's an album where singer/guitarist Ryan Key deals with various perspectives on leaving something substantial behind, and the ambivalent feelings that come with it. Late on the record "Savior's Robes" sneers mockingly with lyrics of "Play us a song we know, make it an older one", no doubt frustrated with the fact that most people have stronger feelings for the Yellowcard of 2003 than for the band's more recent material. Yet on the same record, there's also a song like "Empty Street", where it feels like the reluctance to let go of the good moments on stage is flowing over, like the climax of an irresistibly sappy movie. "I won't let you stop time, your hand in mine, bring me closer as it all gets ripped away".

Yellowcard has always been sort of a corny band, and "Yellowcard" is also a corny record at times, no surprises there. At times it's more offputting than others, yet simultaneously Key, guitarist Ryan Mendez and violinist Sean Mackin also show their veteran touch, as the compositions are never stale, always lively with movements and details, and there are riffs from both guitar and violin here that have some power you can recognise. What the record doesn't really have, though, is ingenuity or ambition. These exercises with anthemic rock are squarely on the safe, traditional side, and several times things seem like you've heard them before in more immersive capacity on one Jimmy Eat World record or other (see for instance the extended instrumental part in "The Hurt Is Gone").

Apart from a seriously corny chorus section in "A Place We Set Afire" and some questionable production on the drums in "What Appears" (the distorted crackle of the snare is borderline unlistenable once you've noticed it), there aren't really any decisive drawbacks on "Yellowcard". That's not its problem. It's more that its concept as a sort of "final goodbye" isn't very inviting in the first place. And while Key's reflections on laying the band to rest seem honest and relatable, they alone do not drag the songs back from a place where you can also sort of see why they're calling it quits. It's like good intentions are there but the music, however capable, does indeed feel like a bit of a recycled bag of tricks. Overall it's a sort of strange, ambivalent listening experience, the most impressive accomplishment of which being that it successfully evokes that mixed feeling of reluctantly saying goodbye to something, even though part of you knows it has to go.

Download: Empty Street, The Hurt Is Gone
For The Fans Of: Jimmy Eat World, Mayday Parade, Cartel

Release date 30.09.2016
Hopeless Records

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