Saying goodbye is never an easy task, but knowing that the end is coming makes the blow a bit softer. Such is the case with Yellowcard, the final album by one of the penultimate bands of pop punk. Yellowcard have ended their career with an album that feels like an accumulation of everything they have done up to this point. If there was a way to go out in style, Yellowcard seized the opportunity and ran with it.
It’s hard to describe Yellowcard, as each song sounds reminiscent of each album in the band’s career up to this point, finding a sublime balance between Southern Air and Lift a Sail. The songs are poppier, but have the edge of an alternative record. It’s clearly in the vein of the band’s most recent work with hints to earlier material, but each song is uniquely Yellowcard.
“Rest in Peace” is as distinct a Yellowcard song as “Ocean Avenue” ever was, with a bouncing guitar riff and whimsical violin taking the spotlight. Whereas “Got Yours” is much more of a faster song in the vein of more recent All Time Low albums. Being their final album, the band also tackles slower songs, such as “Leave a Light On”, a piano ballad tingling with a haunting guitar line. After 15 years, Yellowcard is an experience that keeps you guessing until the very end where past albums stayed on key and theme.
“What Appears” is a harder riffing rock song that sounds like it should have been on Lift a Sail and features a furious violin melody throughout. “The Hurt is Gone” keeps the drumming at a solid pace while the guitars bounce from short, simple strums and the bass keeps the song full. “Fields & Fences” might be the most fitting finale to a band’s career I’ve ever heard. At seven minutes long, it houses the single softest moment’s of Yellowcard’s career, bursts into a stupendous electric bridge, and fades on the wind of Mackin’s violin.
The biggest detriments to the album are a distinct lack of Sean Mackin’s violin taking center stage with exception to the “Rest in Peace” and “A Place We Set Afire”. Instead, Mackin finds a sweet spot in the rhythm section, allowing the guitarwork of Ryan Mendez and Ryan Key to take the spotlight. Although the drumming for Yellowcard is wonderful, it lacks the flair that Longineu Parsons III brought to past albums. Josh Portman’s bass provides a loving melody to the songwork and boosts the framework of the songs throughout.
Fittingly, the theme of the album is saying goodbye. Each song finds a new way to give the message without sounding contrite or repetitive. Lead track “Rest in Peace” is an overall eulogy to the band and reflects on ending after finding their second wind as Key sings, “It was the best that you could be for me / I think we were lucky just to stay alive / Even when you had only fire to breathe / I know you were only trying to make it right / Change everything I’ve ever known / Try once again to let you go”.
“Fields & Fences” sounds like a eulogy of the band making a such a strong comeback after their hiatus and finding understanding in the scheme of things under the brush of eclectic guitar. “I got used to being the star of the show / But I’ve seen the lights come and go / I heard a song playing brought by the wind / I got myself lost and I found you again”.
“A Place We Set Afire” perhaps contains the most direct thesis for why Yellowcard are calling it quits after so long, as Key sings, “We don’t have to say goodbye / But we can’t get lost in time / I’ll be yours and you’ll be mine / Maybe in another life”.
Yellowcard sounds like an ending. It’s a cap to a band that gave their all with each release and every show. Anyone who enjoyed Yellowcard at any point in their vast career will find a song to love, and anyone who enjoyed the band’s entire discography will love the album. It’s not their best or most cohesive work, but it’s not meant to be. Yellowcard is the sum of everything up to this point, collecting the best bits and experimenting with others.
I always tend to assume that the last song on an album is the last I will hear from a band, and in this instance, it’s a correct assumption. “Fields & Fences” ends on an honest note that sums up the parts of Yellowcard as a band before a 90 second violin solo with a simple sentiment: “I don’t have much to give to you / But I know I love the way you make me feel like I’m at home / And I am not alone”.
by Kyle Schultz
Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and rediscovered Yellowcard after their hiatus. Godspeed, you lovely California kids.