Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue

At a glance Yellowcard are very much your archetypal punk rock band - their catchy choruses combined with the run of the mill power chords make for the complete package. Yet what this Florida five piece have that is unique is a violin. Yes you heard it - A violin which makes what could easily be simple pop punk into something much more melodic while still maintaining the upbeat tempo that is synonymous with the genre.

‘Ocean Avenue,’ the band’s first major label release, has the makings of an excellent record. The opener ‘Way Away,’ apart from receiving airtime on MTV2 and Top of the Pops, kick starts the album quite wonderfully with lead vocalist Ryan Key crying ‘Way Away/Away From Here I’ll Be’ as the chorus begins, citing his move from Jacksonville in Florida to Santa Cruz in California in an attempt to follow his dream and make music. What follows is a frenzy of pop punk songs worthy of a place on the Vans Warped Tour as well as a slot on the main stage at this year’s Reading Festival. Songs such as ‘Ocean Avenue,’ ‘Inside Out’ and new single ‘Only One’ all have soaring choruses which are just made that little bit different by the violin. Of course there is the obligatory acoustic song ‘One Year, Six Months’ whilst ‘Believe’ shows the other side to the band with their dual vocals being used to create a Taking Back Sunday-esque effect on the final chorus.

An overriding characteristic that runs throughout the album is its deeply and overtly personal nature indeed the album is described by the band’s web site as an ‘emotional journey.’ Unfortunately this is where the album will fall down with so-called ‘rock’ fans as here it offers nothing new for the pop punk genre, as the likes of Blink 182 and New Found Glory have already walked the path of the ill fated relationship.

This must not detract from what is an excellent album, if its catchy tunes with a few heartfelt lyrics thrown in to complete the package then Yellowcard are currently the pièce de résistance, but within a genre that encompasses too many bands who ‘seem’ to sound identical, Yellowcard have to make sure that they do not pale into insignificance and make use of what is unique to them.

Dan Hanson