red lights


Finding substantial ground

Yellowcard - Lights and Sounds
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Feb. 28, 2006

Review by Andy Argyrakis

The last three years for Yellowcard have been a whirlwind to say the least. The Jacksonville, Florida upstarts signed with Capitol Records, released Ocean Avenue (which has since sold over 2.5 million copies) and raked up on the MTV's various networks, including the MTV2 Award in 2004. Sure there were the typical traps and temptations every young band can fall into and perhaps all of the attention gave members the Hollywood bug at some point, but after some time off from the road to process a new batch of material, these boys are back to business.

When first popping in Lights and Sounds and hearing the instrumental opening "Three Flights Up," it's obvious the guys tried to differentiate themselves from the pack and sonically clear the air so to speak. Not only does the swelling orchestration sound nothing like the group's regularly scheduled power pop/punk outpouring, but it's the first step in a more mature new chapter. Other examples of Yellowcard's stepping it up a notch stylistically include the ramped up harmonies and guitar glides throughout "Sure Thing Falling" and the additional string enhancement behind "Martin Sheen or JFK." Even more gentle but just as dynamic is "How I Go," which surges with the glow of a 25 piece orchestra. But the track "Two Weeks From Twenty" is by far the disc's most impressive, if only for the meaning behind it. The tune traces the fictional story of a teenager serving in the American armed services that dies on the front lines while fighting in Iraq. In telling this tale, Yellowcard conjures up what could be interpreted as an anti-war sentiment and the emotions of a family torn apart by sorrow and pride over their son's bravery.

However, the double edged sword to all these expressions and the more grown-up leanings is the potential quips from harder edged fans hoping for a more carefree and raucous sounding record. Luckily the group does deliver at times with sugary guitar thrashes and monstrous hooks, but some may still be disappointed with the otherwise perceived softening. Even so Lights and Sound may be the record music lovers who once considered themselves to cool to like Yellowcard's gleefulness will find themselves singing along with thanks to the band's threading of much more substantial ground.

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