It’s one thing when a band announces an indefinite hiatus because there is still a chance for them to come back into the scene. While a hiatus announcement is still an emotional experience, it doesn’t come anywhere close to the piercing pain you feel when a band that you grew up with chooses to break-up. Like pretty much all long-time fans of Yellowcard, I was devastated when they had announced that their tenth (!!) album Yellowcard would be the album that they would be ending their pop-punk legacy on. *insert sobbing emoji here* It took a few months to recover, but their self-titled final album is here and they were definitely trying their best to appeal to the listeners who have walked with them every step of the way in their musical journey.
The singles that they chose to pre-release are prime examples of how much they appreciate the love and support from their fans. “Rest In Peace” is a reflective track that can easily come from the mindset of the listener or the band, which is shown from the start of the song (“it was the best that you could be for me…I know you were only trying to make it right”) and its chorus. Lines like “change everything I’ve ever known/try once again to let you go” is a clear reference to how just as fans are finally starting to heal from their hiatus they have to feel all of the hurt all over again ten times worse with their breakup news.
Second released single “The Hurt Is Gone” comes from a place of reassurance from the band that everything will be okay in the long run, even after many years pass (“…whatever lies ahead/the things that we have said will slowly fade…”). The theme of the song can also pertain to rising up from the effects of other life events (“…come up from underground/stop covering your eyes/wasting precious time on yesterdays…”). But more importantly, the band wants you to really understand that they have to end their journey regardless of how much their fans don’t want them to (“…So wake to this truth/and maybe you’ll believe me now/no safety in illusions/of a place where you belonged/so take hold of me/and hang on till the hurt is gone…”).
While the band played around with emo-folk elements (“I’m A Wrecking Ball” and finale track “Fields & Fences”) and slight distorted vocals (“What Appears”, “Got Yours”, and single “The Hurt Is Gone”), it was easy to tell where the band was looking to go in terms of lyrical themes with the singles that were released and they certainly continued that vein throughout a majority of Yellowcard. Its musicality was overtly similar to that of hits from Ocean Avenue, Lights and Sounds, and When You’re Through Thinking Say Yes (“Empty Street” and “Savior’s Robes”) and paired with lyrics regarding the overall album theme of looking back on their journey as a band and how their music has impacted longtime fans.
Hauntingly beautiful and emotionally honest ballad “Leave A Light On”, easily the saddest song on the entire album, can flip-flop between the mindsets of both the musician and the listener. The piano- and violin-prominent track allows the heartbreaking vocals to be the focus in order for us to really feel the impact of the words coming from frontman Ryan Key. Many ideas circle around its lyrics in an almost self-blaming way (“was it me who made you go?” “…it was hard to be so hard on you…maybe you just needed me to feel the way you do…”). In an overall scheme, its lyrical focus turns into an ode to losing someone important and not being able to fully adjust to their missing presence (maybe ex-drummer Longineu W. Parsons III in Yellowcard’s thoughts), which is seen in its chorus and lines such as “…such a long time since you cut out/left me for anywhere…” and “must have been a lifetime you’ve been gone…maybe time is telling us to heal…”
Saying ‘goodbye’ to band that played a significant part in your life is always tough, but sometimes we, as fans, just have to suck it up and embrace the moments that you have shared with that artist. Yellowcard absolutely did not disappoint their fans in their final album, though I personally think that “A Place We Set Afire” would have been a better choice to end the album on than “Fields & Fences” due to its anthemic and memorable quality both lyrically and instrumentally. Yellowcard quite literally used this song to help longtime fans who are having a hard time coping with their breakup (“try to breathe the air that’s here and now/try to find some peace in falling out”). Uplifting and nostalgic instrumentation bring to life the importance of how “there’s a big bright world to see” beyond “the youth you left behind”, while lines such as “you tell me there must be a little light left flickering/burning in a place we set afire” indicate that they are paying attention to the reactions of their fans. They use the song to directly explain to the listener that as much as they love being Yellowcard they know that the journey has to come to an end (“no one will listen if we just wait here to burn”).
Yellowcard focused on using the tracks in this final album to reassure their listeners that although they will not be around anymore, the memories and experiences shared with their music will live on in their hearts. I leave the chorus of “A Place We Set Afire” below as a sendoff for all Yellowcard fans who may be reading this as a reminder that we have just as strong of an impact on them as they did on us.
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
Now excuse me while I go ugly cry over this album until they do a reunion tour.
Influential emo/pop-punk band Yellowcard uses final album to speak directly to fans who are not ready to cope with announcement of breakup.