When a band or an artist releases an acoustic album, no doubt many inevitable presumptions are made about what it sounds like before it has even been heard. Stripped-down, whiney vocals and ‘nothing but a voice and a guitar’ would be the main expectations of an acoustic pop-punk record, especially a record released as a different version of an existing album.
However, be prepared to throw such preconceptions out the window. Yellowcard‘s latest effort, the stripped-down version of their seventh studio album, ‘When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes’, is an extraordinary effort to break away from the predictability associated with the acoustic genre. It’s a mature attempt at creating something different from a somewhat overdone trick, bringing something new and fresh to the world of pop-punk.
Earlier this year, the Floridian pop-punkers made their comeback after embarking on a two year hiatus between 2008 and 2010, releasing an album which both pleased old fans and attracted a newer breed of Yellowcard admirers. Receiving a warm reception similar to that of their 2003 breakthrough effort, ‘Ocean Avenue’, the original version of ‘When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes’ was a strong comeback, bringing them to the forefront of the pop-punk explosion once more after the reformation of legendary bands such as Blink-182 and The Get Up Kids created a buzz in recent times.
Their acoustic material displays their energy and talents even further, showcasing a fresh and innovative approach to a somewhat overdone trick in the pop-punk book. Making use of a variety of sounds and investing in the use of string instruments and maracas as well as the more archetypal acoustic guitar, this album is more folk-sounding than many traditional unplugged pop-punk records. Enlisting the help of Hey Monday vocalist Cassadee Pope on ‘Hang You Up’ is also a nice touch, adding an extra spark to the song instead of stripping it down completely.
Although it’s a must-have for any die-hard Yellowcard fan’s collection, newer fans may not share the same enthusiasm. It has its charms, but the original album is a better representation of what the Floridian five-piece are all about. That’s not to say it won’t win over the hearts of interested listeners, because it’s an excellent example of what a band who want to master their craft and continue to explore new avenues can do.
It is very much a light, breezy record, at times seeming much more pop than pop-punk. This cannot be faulted though, as it’s no doubt very much a feel-good album. The lyrical subjects and general theme of the record may remain the same as many pop-punk pioneers’ previous efforts, from the coming-of-age theme of ‘Life Of Leaving Home’ to the archetypal love song ‘With You Around’, but this is more than made up for by the band’s ambition to do something different. Critics would be foolish to say that it doesn’t tug on their heartstrings just a little.
Written by Ashleigh Wight