Yellowcard – Paper Walls


Artist: Yellowcard
Album: Paper Walls
Label: Capitol Records
Purchase: InterPunk
Release Date: July 17th, 2007

Overall: 8.0
Music: 8.5
Lyrics: 7.0
Production: 7.5

Don’t call it a comeback… or maybe you can. With 2003’s smash hit Ocean Avenue catapulting Yellowcard into the mainstream culture. It’s follow up, last years Lights and Sounds, which fell upon deaf ears and eventually was chalked up as a commercial failure. This in turn subsequently took the band out of the spotlight and back to the drawing board. Not even 10 months after the release of Lights and Sounds Yellowcard headed back to the studio to begin writing their next record. What emerged from those sessions was the captivatingly titled Paper Walls, a narrative opus of raw emotion, hope, healing and self-discovery. The record showcases the group at their absolute best, with a thorough display of energy, passion and force on each song.

Paper Walls begins with the blistering track “The Takedown” which will immediately induce head-bobbing even in the most fickle of music fans. The song makes for a solid opener, although the sometimes muddled guitars leave a little more to be desired. The first taste we received of Paper Walls was “Fighting” and I feel that it represents the band perfectly at this point in time. Being the definition of polished pop-punk it is truly my favorite song on the record. Where “Shrink the World” keeps things up-tempo and completely heartfelt with the reiterating statement of “if I could then I’d shrink the world tonight so that I would find you and me inside.” I believe the standout track to be the intensely personal and introspective “Keeper” where the melody is rich and entrancing. The potential is definitely there for this song to be a big hit in the second half of ’07. The first single “Light Up the Sky” which brings forth the resurgence of that familiar Yellowcard sound by way of expert violinist Sean Mackin. As his musicianship remains prevalent in the overall sound and should appease those who felt he was underutilized on Lights and Sounds. The acoustic-laced ballad “Shadows and Regrets” reflects heavily upon the passing of a close friend. The sad overtones strangely enough happen to serve as a platform as some of the group’s best work. The breakneck pacing of “Five Becomes Four” simply proves the band can still write a genuine rapid punk rock song that as always features their signature Yellowcard flair. On “Afraid” Ryan Key continues to lament and open up as he questions “what if I can’t get out? what if I don’t want to be saved?” and states “this is me afraid.” Unexpectedly Paper Walls comes to a halt with the song “Dear Bobbie” an ode to Key’s grandparents and their love. Featuring audio recordings of his grandfather reading excerpts of love letters to his wife. The subtle string arrangement mixed with the acoustic guitar creates a perfect tone. The song as a whole can only be described as beautiful, and the admiration only continues to carry on with “You and Me and One Spotlight.” As the end of the album nears “Cut Me, Mick” which pays homage to the film Rocky; highlights the drumming of the one and only Longineu Parsons. The title track closes out the record with precise fashion; as a sole acoustic guitar is backed by an all female choir. Then abruptly the group breaks into the anthemic jaunt. For me everything is simply summed up with the abstract yet prophetic line “let’s take what hurts and write it all down on these paper walls in this empty house and when our ink runs out we’ll burn it to the ground.”

As the music is fading from the speakers I am left to reflect upon what I just listened to. I admit to never being the biggest Yellowcard fan, but with Paper Walls the band has won me over. It may take some time but with songs of this caliber Yellowcard can undoubtedly breakdown the walls and reclaim that which has eluded them. Whether it can be defined as a “comeback album” or not the only concrete fact is that Paper Walls is purely a great record.

Track List
1. The Takedown
2. Fighting
3. Shrink the World
4. Keeper
5. Light Up the Sky
6. Shadows and Regrets
7. Five Becomes Four
8. Afraid
9. Date Line (I Am Gone)
10. Dear Bobbie
11. You and Me and One Spotlight
12. Cut Me, Mick
13. Paper Walls

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