Back On Form And Catchier Than Ever
Pop punk bands seem to be lurking around every corner, you can't turn on the radio without being blasted with the latest offering from a group of young tykes intent on becoming the next Green Day but who instead seem more destined to tread the path of Sum 41.
With such stiff competition its easy to see why some bands fall by the wayside, chucked on the pop punk compost heap to disintegrate into the past like a pair of worn out Converse. Some though manage to dodge this bullet, some like Yellowcard, a band that offer something more, something entirely different from the other treats bands may offer and in the case of these five Jacksonville guys this something else just so happens to be a violin. Yes, the old fiddle is their saviour, the thing that makes them stand out from the crowd long enough to grab your attention and insure that you become gripped to their incessantly catchy songs.
Now on their third major label album, Yellowcard are proving that violins aside they are more than a gimmick laden band and are in fact at the forefront of their genre and whilst it may have been the violin that first caught your eye, 'Paper Walls' will insure that this is one pop punk act that won't fall by the way side.
Exploding with a burst of vibrant guitars and insatiable melodies, album opener 'The Takedown' boldly lays the gauntlet for others to follow. Energetically catchy and with hooks that lock into every bone in your body 'The Takedown' guarantees that you are happily tapping along with Yellowcard in no time. With such a zealously vibrant opener it is hard to see how the band could possibly have another catchy hit on the album but it seems that 'Paper Walls' is brimming with the type of songs that radiate summer feel-goodness from every beat as 'Fighting' goes on to prove.
Indeed 'Paper Walls' finds the perfect balance between the hook drenched melodies and the tougher somewhat harsher guitar edges as full on guitar shredding effortlessly mingles with the melodically charged vocal harmonising of the group. 'Shrink The World' is unapologetically catchy and should come with its own health warning as Ryan Key's distinct vocals refuse to allow anyone not to sing along. Combining melody with propulsive riffs, epically charged choruses with insatiable hooks Yellowcard have created the type of album their peers long to attain, raising the bar for new bands to strive for and proving that even punk can carry off a pop sheen.
Not content on intoxicating all with their incessant catchiness, Yellowcard's 'Paper Walls' also makes a play for our hearts as the Jacksonville band unleash their own style of ballad. Pulsating with lyrics that are laced in uncompromised emotion and the most personal touches you could ever find, 'Shadows and Regrets' can not fail to tug at the heart strings. And whilst the unique sentimentality of 'Dear Bobbie' may be a tad too sickly sweet for some it will surely take a heart of stone not to crumble at a track that boasts Key's real-life grandfather reading a love letter to his wife perfectly woven through the song. Yes, even punk has a soft side.
After the somewhat lukewarm reception that greeted their 2006 offering, 'Ocean Avenue', Yellowcard appear to be back at their best. Whilst 'Paper Walls' still captures the tough progressiveness of their second album there is still enough catchiness and melody to draw you to the songs making for a dangerous combination that in undeniably hard to resist. You may as well throw in the towel now.