Yellowcard: Ocean Avenue Review

Yellowcard’s first major label album was an instant success with a bevy of single-worthy hits and appealing punk rock rhythms that made it a driving force in the genre. Between Benjamin Harper’s raucous electric guitar riffs, Sean Mackin’s jaw-dropping violin playing and Ryan Key’s endearing wails, Yellowcard immediately proved themselves as a talented and incredibly addicting pop punk experience, especially after their star single “Ocean Avenue” took the nation by storm. Although Paper Walls deserves recognition as Yellowcard’s best record, Ocean Avenue was the album that put them on the map and will likely always be acknowledge by the majority of fans as their favorite.

Standout Tracks

Way Away” kicks off Ocean Avenue with a bang, as Longineau Parsons’ sporadically rhythmic drumming and blaring guitar riffs ignite this heavy punk rocker. The high-pitched whine of Mackin’s superb violin riffs unite wonderfully with the guitar hooks while Key wails to his heart’s content. The fast-paced guitar-chugging and swooning violin work builds the tension nicely before erupting into each action-packed chorus. This adrenaline-charged headbanger is energetic and downright electric, grabbing the listener’s attention and tuning them in for the duration of Ocean Avenue.

As the hit single that initially brought Yellowcard their fame and success, “Ocean Avenue” is still a radio favorite and instant way to get a car full of people jamming along. Its melodic riffs, Mackin’s animated and lighthearted violin, and Peter Mosely’s underlying bass give it an endearing quality, enhanced even further by an explosive chorus and Key’s prolific and elongated singing as he pleads, “If I could find you now, things would get better / We could leave this town and run forever / I know somewhere, somehow we’ll be together / Let your waves crash down and take me away.”

Serving as the emotional climax of the album, “Only One” offers a little taste of desperation and passion as Key pours his heart out into every note and tumultuous chorus. Building slowly from composed verses filled with a steady drum beat and reverberating electric guitars, each refrain takes things to a new level with Key’s fervent wails, consistent drumming and escalating guitar riffs. The dramatic violin, guitar and drum solos provide a transcendent instrumental bridge, conveying Key’s emotions as well as the singer does himself when he reveals, “Here I go, scream my lungs out and try to get to you / You are my only one / I let go, but there’s just no one who gets me like you do / You are my only, my only one.”

The Verdict

Although “Ocean Avenue” deserves a lot of credit for thrusting Yellowcard into the national spotlight, Ocean Avenue is filled with a plethora of incredible songs that easily could have done the same. From the hard-hitting “Breathing” to the hopeful “Believe” based on the heroics of the New York firefighters on 9/11, Yellowcard’s major label debut is an enjoyable pop punk experience from start to finish. With it’s reverberating electric guitar hooks, upbeat drumming, incredible violin riffs and Key’s attractive vocal performance, Yellowcard steps forward as frontrunners in the genre on this tremendous and consistent debut. The unprecedented use of excited violin in heavy pop punk makes them unique, but the band’s skill and songwriters and lyricists should not be overlooked either, as Ocean Avenue perfectly captures the spirit of carefree youth and the beach-filled memories and nostalgia the comes with it.  Fans of New Found Glory, The Starting Line, Sugarcult, Motion City Soundtrack, Cartel, All Time Low, Sum 41, Blink-182 and Amber Pacific should be used to this endearing style of pop punk, especially considering that Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue likely helped spark an eventual interest in at least half of those bands.

Final Score: 9.4/10

Rank: 2nd (eight total albums)

Track List

  1. Way Away
  2. Breathing
  3. Ocean Avenue
  4. Empty Apartment
  5. Life Of A Salesman
  6. Only One
  7. Miles Apart
  8. Twentythree
  9. View From Heaven
  10. Inside Out
  11. Believe
  12. One Year, Six Months
  13. Back Home

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  1. #1 by Twyla on January 23, 2014 - 3:37 am

    What’s up, after reading this amazing post i am as well happy to share my knowledge here with friends.

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