Yellowcard - Lights and Sounds
Tim Miller 23/01/2006
Having already reviewed the title track of this album as a single, I haven't been holding out too many hopes for the LP. A bizarre piano and string mixture opens the album for a minute and a half: bizarre because Yellowcard have, unwittingly or not, lifted the melody from 1999 one hit wonder Emilia's “Big Big World”. Yes, the very song who's chorus went thus: “I'm a big, big girl in a big, big world'. No doubt, however, this ingenious use of strings will touch the souls of the pop punkers who idolise Yellowcard. It's deep, man.
Sounding, as ever, like Rufio and Alkaline Trio before them, Yellowcard peddle emotive power chord punk, with passionate harmonies to choruses such as “I never thought I would wake up in bed/watching the world coming down on my head”. Riffs more akin to an era when Papa Roach were still credible feature on songs like Sure Thing Falling, while the obligatory string-laden ballad City of Devils takes more than a leaf from Greenday's songbook (i.e Wake Me Up When September Ends). Ryan Key, the lead vocalist, here makes the astonishingly obvious insight that “it's hard to find angels in hell”, a lyric of lacklustre creativity which will undeservedly adorn school diary front covers, scratched in with maths compasses. It's as though he's speaking straight into my heart. It's, like, he understands me.
To give Yellowcard credit, however, they do buck the trend with an anti-war song Two Weeks from Twenty. Despite the at-times cringeworthy lyrics, the gentle melodic guitar and unexpected chord twists fit the story of a lost 19 year old soldier. What makes this track work is the restraint, the lack of trying to be over the top emotive, which results in a more realistic, bare emotion. After this though, it's a return to ticking all the right boxes, loud guitars and violin-capped choruses, with clichéd lyrics like “More than ever, I see the real you”.
There isn't much more to say about Yellowcard's latest album. Emo-punk by numbers, which is just what the Yellowcard fans want, is offered here in abundance. Each of the 14 tracks - bar the single Lights and Sounds and the break from the norm Two Years from Twenty - is as unremarkable as the last, as the same ingredients combine to make the same product: emotive guitar driven punk imported from the US. It isn't that Yellowcard do this generic music badly, indeed, there are far worse contenders. It's just the fact that they, like so many other bands, continue to do it at all.