Saturday, 2 August 2008

Yellowcard, Paper Walls

Yellowcard, Paper Walls
Capitol Records

Having already had to lay my ear on the new Sum 41 album this week, Yellowcard welcomed me back to a more thoughtful brand of emo punk. Though at heart Paper Walls is a predictable rehash of a tired genre (complete with lyrics sung through the nose and that ol’ opening-guitar-riff-followed-by-crashing-drum-intro chestnut), fans of the band will lap it up – slick production, catchy songs recorded VERY LOUD and reams of tedious lyrics with all the relevant teen themes: loneliness, love and inadequacy. Yellowcard’s traditional USP over other bands in this vast pigeonhole of popular music was their violinist Sean Mackin, who gave the band a unique opportunity to become the ultimate soundtrack to the love and strife of androgynous emo teens, and hence really, y’know, mean something to all those kids dying their hair black over the side of the bath. Sadly, Mackin seems to have recorded his parts from the corridor on this record, despite the fact that when they do allow him some space to show off on ‘Five Becomes Four’ he viciously shreds his way through what would have been a forgettable guitar part.

The last four tracks are vastly superior to the meat and potatoes emo of the first two thirds, however. ‘Dear Bobbie’ is the weirdest thing here, featuring (I assume) one of the Yellowcard grandpas reading from an old love letter to his young wife: ‘I still think of you when we dance although we can’t jitterbug as we did then’. It’s a genuinely tender moment – ripe for some strings, you’d think, so where are they? Closer ‘Paper Walls’ even has a completely un-naff choir part - I shuddered when I saw it in the credits but it’s actually unobtrusive and beautifully arranged (by that elusive violinist). Yellowcard have ideas and potential beyond the grasp of their peers; if only they would use it and push some boundaries rather than getting cold feet at the thought of rocking the boat and losing fans.


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