To a lot of people, Yellowcard are “Ocean Avenue”: a sing-along anthem off their breakthrough fourth album that immediately transports anyone who listens back to their angst-filled, sweetly yearning teenage years. Although they’ve occassionally strayed from that style of pop-punk over the 13 years since that collection debuted in 2003, their tenth and final record features glimmers of their former selves — for better and for worse.
Yellowcard have never excelled at lyrics the way their early- and mid-2000s peers like Fall Out Boy and Panic! at the Disco have, something that’s strikingly apparent here. Yellowcard‘s songs are full of lines you might expect to find in a teenage journal. On the piano ballad “Leave a Light On,” frontman Ryan Key rhymes, “Maybe time is telling us to heal / Maybe you just needed me to feel / The way you do.” It’s supposed to be heartfelt, longing, but instead, it comes off as cloying, cringeworthy.
But these weaknesses feel less obvious on fast-paced rockers like the appropriately titled album opener “Rest in Peace” (and, yes, the violin is there) and the strutting, confident “What Appears.” These are the types of soaring tracks that are soaked in nostalgia, reminders of a Warped Tour youth spent dirtying Chuck Taylors and dreaming about getting out of whatever small town you come from. It’s prime Yellowcard.
The album wraps up with “Fields and Fences,” a country-tinged seven-minute tune that feels like the capital-E end. Complete with Key’s nasal vocals and a soaring crescendo, the song eventually dissolves into pretty instrumentals that are both somber and hopeful. Before this, though, is the irresistibly youthful “Savior’s Robes,” sure to be a crowd favorite on their upcoming farewell tour — partly thanks to its wistful, fitting chorus: “Play us a song I know… Make it an older one.”