Yellowcard - When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
Release Date - March 22, 2011
Record Label: Hopeless Records
Sometimes it can be difficult analyzing music from bands that you just want to like. Whether itís because they have held a special place in your past or theyíre the next big thing in the scene that you love, thereís no denying that certain bands mean more to certain people; sometimes even before you hear a single note of the latest music they have to offer. For me, Yellowcard is one of those bands that I will probably always like Ė but thereís good reason. Out of all the things that appeal to me musically, this band is one of the closest to combining the greatest number of different musical elements I enjoy. From the windows-down-catchy hooks, never boring song structuring, to plain old fast-paced, high-octane pop-punk rhythm sections, Yellowcard is really close to the "perfect band" for me. But luckily for myself (and fans everywhere), the bandís latest work, When Youíre Through Thinking, Say Yes, is easy to write about because it leaves nearly nothing to be desired. I donít have to try to like this album because of my connection with the band; its quality speaks for itself from start to finish.
The bandís career has had its share of ups and downs, accolades and criticisms. The career-launching success of Ocean Avenue was the product of great vision and incredible timing. The follow up, Lights And Sounds, flopped mostly due to the timing and not so much its content. While the album is now much more easily embraced within the context of a 6+ album discography, its initial reception poised the band for a "comeback" album in Paper Walls. After writing the best album of their career, the guys went on hiatus for a while, which has created a similar return-to-music situation for the release of Say Yes. Comparisons to previous releases will be imminent among fans and critics, but thereís no denying that Yellowcard is back in a big way.
The album opens with one of the most complete and mature songs the band has ever written. Just as Paper Walls opened with extreme energy in "Takedown," Say Yes sets the bar extremely high right from the get go. An album full of openers like "The Sound of You and Me" would have been great in its own right; vocalist Ryan Key boasts his best writing to date here, while the band gets unconventional with its instrumentation. The ensuing outro is one of the strongest and most enjoyable points on the album at just around 3 minutes in, with an epic instrumental section breaking Keyís cries of "bring walls down/hear all my sound/let me back in/love me again."
The third track of the album, "With You Around," is a head turner, rekindling the classic Ocean Avenue sound and features what might be the most enjoyable hook of 2011. But donít pigeonhole the track as the stereotypical catchy song to appeal to the radio Ė itís much more than that. The bridge pulls listeners in closer with a high energy guitar lick and "woah oh ohís," never letting up the tempo or the carefree feeling and somehow without ever feeling forced or immature. Iím not afraid to say it; this is the best song on the album.
The record doesnít drop off after just the third track, either. Second single "Hang You Up" is exactly the kind of mid-tempo song that fans have come to love Yellowcard for, while also showcasing Keyís vastly improved writing abilities. The triple shot of pop punk in "Life of Leaving Home," "Hide" and "Soundtrack" up the instrumental intensity in the recordís mid section. Admittedly, "Hide" is a bit cut and dry, but the two adjacent tracks make up for what "Hide" lacks in staying power. The slowest song of the album, "Sing For Me," would have been much better as a stripped-down acoustic number, but itís still extremely enjoyable if not a bit of a misdirection.
Say Yes closes with back-to-back knockouts in "See Me Smiling" and "Be The Young." The latter stands out as Yellowcardís take on more wide open alternative rock, with a delay-driven guitar riff and slowed down bridge and verses. The bandís chemistry is undeniable at the close of the album; Keyís vocals have never sounded better, Longineu Parsonís drumming is as relentless and complex as ever, and any lingering doubts about guitarist Ryan Mendez being an upgrade over Ben Harper are completely erased. The newcomer, Sean OíDonnell, plays his role seemingly well, commanding the bass and lending a few errant background vocals. Overall the band has hit a stride they havenít been capable of yet, as this is best lineup combination of their tumultuous career. It would also be a disservice to producer Neal Avron not to mention how incredible this album's elements sound together. The levels are mixed to that perfect Yellowcard sound; from chunky rhythm guitars to crystal-clear leads, this album is aesthetic perfection.
To say that When Youíre Through Thinking, Say Yes is the bandís best work to date would be debatable, but at this point the argument should also seem irrelevant. Yellowcard has returned with something for old and new fans alike, crafting a sound that is uniquely their own and totally perfected. While it might not be the best album of the year, this is the best record the band could have made, and will be a highlight in the bandís past (and hopefully future) discography.
yellowcard is one of my favorite bands ever. this album is perfect, in my opinion. i can listen to it over and over again and feel something different each time. when you're through thinking, say yes is one of my favorite yellowcard albums.