My experience with Florida pop-punk group Yellowcard is admittedly short, as my interest in the band dwindled after the spectacular Ocean Avenue. However, this is still an album I revisit regularly because of how it helped mold my eventual musical tastes. It is filled with youthful, punky greatness, mixed in with above average musicianship (especially Sean Mackin’s violin work), making it an album that I continuously cherish. Yellowcard may be hitting it big right now with Southern Air, but Ocean Avenue is, to me, still the band’s crowning achievement (Southern Air is fantastic though and has rekindled my interest in the band).
“Way Away” is a punky, catchy opener; it’s definitely clear why the song served as the first single from the album. The title track “Ocean Avenue” is one of the best songs on the album, where vocalist Ryan Key really shines through. Mackin’s violin work on the track implements itself perfectly into the mix, feeling just as much a part of the music as the other instruments. “Empty Apartment” is a low-key and somber track, in the best way possible. The song is Yellowcard’s attempt at bluesy rock-centric music and they pull it off flawlessly. Mix that in with a fantastic violin solo, and the product is a highly memorable song with a lot of substance.
“Life of a Salesman” pulls the album back into a punky direction, and the opening violin work instantly grabs your attention. In parts, the song sounds like it would fit perfectly on an earlier Blink-182 album, but again Yellowcard infuse a lot of their own elements into the track. “Salesman” is the ultimate half-rocker/half-punk song. “Miles Apart” keeps the momentum going with an epic drum-led opener. It then bursts into a full-on assault of guitars and another jaw-dropping violin performance from Mackin. “Believe” has a soaring chorus and a head-bobbing groove to it, with a sensational instrumental breakdown toward the end-point. It’s another major highlight.
Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue has had a place in my personal playlist for many years, and it will continue to stay there. The album expertly balances various elements of music. There’s even traces of the band’s more hardcore roots throughout the thirteen tracks, making Ocean Avenue a truly diverse album. It is a genre-defining album, and truly Yellowcard’s masterpiece. It’s both highly accessible and genuinely complex and is truly one of the best pop-punk albums ever released.