Comeback records are never easy. After bands re-announce their return, with line-ups, personalities and mantras all shifted, there’s an enormous amount of pressure to blow fans out of the water and show that the band has been officially resurrected. Whether it’s through restructurement of the band as a whole, or just staying true to the music they originally made, there’s no doubt that it’s a ton of pressure to impress the judging masses. However, if successfully done, something incredible can happen in the process: a complete rebirth of the feelings originally bestowed into the hearts of their listeners. And that’s exactly what Jacksonville, Florida sextet Yellowcard did just last year with their stellar release When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, which through just ten tracks, ends up being a total reincarnation of the classed-up, polished pop-punk they provided the public for fifteen glorious years.
With a new bassist, Sean O’Donnell playing in place of long time member Peter Mosely, label in tow (Hopeless Records produced the record), this ends up being the band’s first record since their 2007 Capitol Records release Paper Walls, leaving the band with a lot to live up to. Clocking in at just thirty-seven minutes and ten tracks, the record ends up being on the short side of Yellowcard’s discography, as they assuredly decide to go for quality over quantity with the album. However, before diving into WYTTSY, there’s a couple of things you should know. First, and foremost, don’t even bother paying attention to the release date of the record. Though it may claim to have come out in March, the album just screams summer in all of the best ways. Take track “With You Around”, which may go down as the perfect track for your mid-July beach excursions. With its pounding chorus (“All I can think about is you and me driving with a Saves the Day record on/ We kept singing ’til our voices were gone / And I was falling hard while you were falling hard”) it ends up being as infectious and fun-loving as anything you’d expect from the group.
The energy doesn’t stop there though. “The Sound of You & Me” and “For You & Your Denial” end up being a great one-two punch to begin the album on a high note. The former possesses a second half that feels outstandingly similar the hammering chord progressions of Taking Back Sunday’s “Timberwolves At New Jersey”, while the latter holds true to the fantastic vocal variation that Ryan Key has always been well-known for. However, the record’s deep cuts aren’t something you should soon forget. Gorgeously aching “Sing for Me” brings to mind how some of the group’s most memorable moments are when they slow the tempo down. Dripping in personal regret, Key appears at his most fragile since his days of “Empty Apartment”, showing that though his lyrical chops are basic, the song hits just as hard as anything the band’s released to date.
As far as weaknesses on the record, there isn’t much to report this time around. The album as a whole is much more cohesive than Lights & Sounds and has slicker production value than One for the Kids, but the album still doesn’t capture the initial vivacity found in Ocean Avenue, their debut release. As much as When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes comes close to hitting that mark of excellence, it’s difficult to say that the band has evolved during their hiatus. Ocean Avenue was a benchmark album for the fact that it felt fresh and new to the public, an evolvement for their genre. However, you think after such a large time to explore different projects that the re-emergence of Yellowcard would provide for more innovation in their sound. It’s for this reason that When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes remains solely as a sufficiently solid release for the group.
Though there’s a lack of modernization in this release, it’s still great to see Yellowcard back to doing what they do best: adding another exceptional album to their already extensive discography. The band continues to shine through with an assortment of familiar tempos, styles and tracks to satisfy those who’ve been waiting four long years for their crack at this material. Even though the record had only a year to resonate before Southern Air would take over, but nevertheless, it’s relieving to see that Yellowcard is proving once again to the public that they’re not going anywhere any time soon.