Since I just saw my last-ever Yellowcard concert last night, I figured today would be as good a time as any to review their tenth and final album. The band decided about a year and a half ago that they would disband after the release of this album. While many fans are understandably devastated at the news, it wasn’t entirely surprising to me. The band had gone through a lot of personal trauma during the sessions for their previous record, Lift a Sail. One could theorize that these difficulties necessitated the band’s split.
Yellowcard has always first and foremost been about three things, at least for me: riffs, violins, and lyrics. Their riff game is on point on their final album, with “Got Yours” and “A Place We Set Afire,” being my personal favorites. Sean Mackin’s violin, sadly, is deemphasized somewhat here, lingering in the background of most of the songs. Its most prominent appearances are on the outros of “The Hurt Is Gone,” and “Fields and Fences.” Like in Lift a Sail, Mackin’s appearances are more classical-style rather than the rocking vibe he brought on the band’s most prominent records, like Ocean Avenue.
Yellowcard’s lyrics have always been one of my favorite parts of the band, because unlike most pop-punk bands, whose lyrics are either about gettin’ drunk and doin’ it, or have all the maturity of a 9th grade school dance (I’m looking at you, Blink 182), Yellowcard’s lyrics have always been deeper and more sincere. This is especially true in their post-hiatus records, such as my favorite, 2011’s When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes. “Got Yours,” for instance, talks about the death of a relationship, but is a little more nuanced than the typical song of that nature, talking about “what I couldn’t say to you for fear of telling true,” because sometimes, telling someone the truth is worse than saying nothing at all. “The Hurt Is Gone” talks about the dangers of hiding from life… it goes on even if you try to stop it.
Relatedly, one of the hallmarks of the post-2011 incarnation of the band is their versatility. Lift a Sail showed that they didn’t have to be aggressively pulse-pounding on every song, and that legacy is continued on Yellowcard. “I’m a Wrecking Ball,” which one might think is an aggressive song from the title, is actually one of the tamest on the album, with acoustic guitar and violin. “Leave a Light On” is similar, but with a piano instead, recalling “California,” from the previous album. There’s even some sonic experiments on this album, with some weird guitar distortion in “What Appears,” that almost makes it sound like they’re playing a turntable.
It’s also easy to see from the lyrical themes on the album that the band knew this was going to be the end. Many of the songs can be interpreted as a goodbye to the fans, such as “Rest In Peace,” which is framed as a personal interaction, but discusses the theme of letting things lay and reflecting on the past. “Empty Street,” while ostensibly about two people who aren’t able to start a relationship because they never want the same thing at the same time, also includes lines like, “I won’t be with you but I won’t be far away.” The album ends with “Fields and Fences,” with a poignant outro that will have most Yellowcard fans near tears.
All of this adds up to a fitting goodbye for one of my all-time favorite artists. It might not be my favorite Yellowcard record, but it’s probably in the upper half, and any fan who’s enjoying their second-half renaissance should buy it. Hell, you should buy it if you’re a fan of good rock, for crying out loud. Here are my track picks:
“A Place We Set Afire”
“Fields & Fences”