Review by Shannon Shumaker
I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreading listening to Yellowcard’s final album. It’s not that I haven’t been excited to hear ten new Yellowcard songs, but the fact that it will be the last time that I’ll be able to do so. It’s bittersweet, but thankfully, the band goes out with a bang on their new and final self-titled record. Even as Yellowcard says goodbye to their fans, they’re still introducing them to new sounds, experimenting with new instruments and keeping listeners on their toes. If anything, this album just promises that, although Yellowcard may be coming to an end, the future is certainly bright for these musicians.
Opening up the album is the heartbreaking, yet upbeat and catchy single, “Rest In Peace.” The end of the band is addressed right off the bat, and because of that, it allows Yellowcard to really shine on the rest of the album without having to address the elephant in the room. Not only that, but “Rest In Peace” is a track that any Yellowcard fan will instantly fall in love with. Ryan Key’s vocals are stunning and emotional, and alongside incredible guitar work and somber violin, it creates the perfect intro. Following “Rest In Peace” is “What Appears,” which allows the band to reflect on their past and gives listeners a surprisingly hopeful song, even at the beginning of the end. Musically, bass and drums really drive this track, giving it a very deep sound, contrasting really well with the opener.
Keeping things well rounded is “A Place We Set Afire,” which really shines lyrically. Although a little simplistic, the vocals and lyrics - about the end of a relationship and letting go of someone who means a lot to you - really drive “A Place We Set Afire.” Ryan Key is sounds his best in the chorus as he sings, “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.” The perfect transition then comes with “Leave A Light On,” which is right on par with “A Place We Set Afire” emotionally, full of longing, heartache and regret.
Although it would be easy for this album to remain rather slow, mellow and somber, it would be uncharacteristic of Yellowcard to leave without providing listeners with some high energy, explosive tracks as well. Thankfully, “The Hurt Is Gone” picks up the pace about halfway through the album and really feels like a turning point, especially in lines like, “Change comes for you/Even when you’re hiding out.” Shining moments in “The Hurt Is Gone” come in the guitar work, which really stands out from the rest of the album, and the violin toward the end of the song, which is where things really start to feel final.
With every song that passes, it feels bittersweet. Yellowcard have poured their heart and soul into these powerful songs, but with each passing moment, you’re one song closer to the last new song you’ll hear from the band. Keeping things moving forward though is “Empty Street,” driven by massive drums and a very anthemic sound while Key wails, “This is goodbye,” followed by the surprisingly beautiful, “I’m A Wrecking Ball,” which is an acoustic, folky ballad.
From there, “Savior’s Robes” starts to bring things to a close before the final seven minute masterpiece that is “Fields And Fences,” and I urge you to really listen to this track. I mean it, just close your eyes, listen, and try not to cry. It’s not very often that a band will provide listeners with a “goodbye album” so to speak, but that’s exactly what this release is for Yellowcard fans - it’s a thank you note, so to speak, and this final song deserves your full attention. “Fields And Fences” was obviously chosen as the closing track for a reason - every ounce of energy, passion, emotion and soul that Yellowcard has ever put forth is present in this song. I don’t want to give too much away, because I think any Yellowcard fan should just listen to this final song and take away from it what they want, but without a doubt, “Fields And Fences” is easily the most epic, emotional and powerful song that the band has ever released. As Ryan Key sings the final lines and the full band slowly fades out into somber yet beautiful violin for the last time, it may signify the end of Yellowcard, but at the very least, they’ve left fans with an incredible thank you letter, and at the most, a lifetime of memories and a massive catalogue of songs to go along with it.
Listen to "Fields And Fences"