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Yellowcard return to bring violin-rock music to the masses

"When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes" 4/5 Pitchforks Yellowcard Hopeless Records

“Can we begin/ Finding our way back before we’re/ too late” sings Ryan Key sings in the “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” opener — a statement that has been swimming around in Yellowcard fans’ heads for two years now. After side projects, reunion rumors, and just plain uncertainty at what “indefinite hiatus” means these days, at long last, Yellowcard have returned.

It’s been so long since Yellowcard ruled our radios and car mix CD’s, but it’s a worthwhile wait for their newest album. When that first violin note rings out, you’re immediately transported back to a high school daze. The album is just instant nostalgia, drawing influences from Warped Tours and buzz bands of yesteryear while elaborating on the bands already distinct sound.

The album opener, “The Sound of You and Me” is a perfect summation of the album as a whole. Lightning fast drumming and crunchy guitars, the song starts off exactly as you remembered any Yellowcard track. By the time you get to the bridge, however, the song opens up, giving a more orchestral feel as the bridge builds to a huge outro. Oh yeah, they’re back all right.

“For You and Your Denial,” the first single from the album, is in the same vein as some of Yellowcard’s rockier singles such as “Way Away” or “Lights and Sounds.” Anthemic in it’s own right, it will be hard not getting pumped up after the first listen.

What sets Yellowcard apart from their contemporaries is the band’s confidence in putting good songs on their albums regardless of how they fit with “their sound.” Previous albums have seen country songs and even some jazzy pieces. “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” continues this tradition with some of Key’s stripped down pop songs from his side projects, Big If.

“Hang You Up,” one of Key’s side project tracks reworked for the album, is a lo-fi pop gem. Many bands would be too afraid to put something so catchy out there. With soft violin, drum-machine tracks, and lightly chorused guitars, Yellowcard explores its Third Eye Blind/Dashboard Confessional side. Once it hits radio, “Ocean Avenue,” déjà-vu will really sink in. You’ve been warned.

For those of you yearning for Warped Tours long since gone, Yellowcard ends their album with tracks that cap this trip down memory lane. “See Me Smiling” is a hard-edged cut that captures that New Jersey/Long Island sound of Taking Back Sunday’s and Brand New’s first albums. “Be The Young” will be a favorite of Something Corporate diehards. With guitars that sound like waves crashing and lyrics that reflect a sense of never growing up, it is a fitting track for Yellowcard to end the album as well as revamp their band.

This may not be the defining rock album of the year or a Billboard chart topper, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s a solid album you can enjoy listening to again and again. Yellowcard doesn’t need to prove anything here. They’ve made this album for the longtime fans that never gave up on them. That, my friends, is rock n’ roll.

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