Lights and Sounds

Studio Album by released in 2006

Lights and Sounds review

Yellowcard expanded their musical prowess in their newest release, Lights & Sounds

Punk-pop quintet Yellowcard formed in Jacksonville, FL, in 1997 but didn't solidify their lineup until a move to Southern California in early 2000. 2003 was a really big year for the group (vocalist/guitarist Ryan Key, vocalist/violinist Sean Mackin, guitarist Ben Harper, drummer Longineu Parsons, and bassist Warren Cooke); it saw them replacing Cooke with Pete Mosely, signing with Capitol and issuing Ocean Avenue, which was certified double platinum in late 2004. With Ocean Avenue Yellowcard delivered the kind of speedy, highly emotional tunes. This year they expanded their musical prowess in their newest release, Lights & Sounds. The group found themselves distracted by "the lights and sounds" of Hollywood. To start off with a clean slate the main songwriters, Ryan Key and Pete Mosely, moved to New York to work. Not only do they continue to create infectious hooks and melodies, but the group takes a new turn with different sounds and mature content, sometimes addressing global issues. Their new sound is aided by the addition of a new guitarist, Ryan Mendez of Staring Back.

A huge step forward for the band

Starting off the CD with their violin and ambient piano, the first track, Three Flights Up, is a lush, beautiful string intro. And is only there for a minute and twenty four seconds, before the title tracks' exploding drums and infectious guitar licks come in with a heavier sound than you've ever heard from Yellowcard. There's still plenty of kinetic crunch (and lots more of violinist Sean Mackin's deftly bowed figures) on this album. City of Devils employs an orchestra for a chorus with such a sublime lilt that it could melt even the hardest heart. Rough Landing Holly is a blustery tale of puppy love gone to the dogs that will surely make for a great ringtone. On Waiting Game, the band turns what otherwise might have been a cheesy melodic hook into irresistible pop confection. A trumpet solo by Printz Board of the Black Eyed Peas manages to swing effortlessly over the tricky jazz changes of the antiwar Two Weeks From Twenty, and Dixie Chick Natalie Maines joins singer Ryan Key to duet on How I Go, a slow, somber waltz in which a dying father bids farewell to his son. It is a huge step forward for the band, not only featuring their usual instruments, but a full 25-piece orchestra. The music for the entire orchestra was arranged and conducted completely by their violinist, Sean Mackin.

Yellowcard has found their niche with Lights & Sounds

Over the last few years, Yellowcard has spent most of its time touring for Ocean Avenue. This new album gave the band members a chance to catch up with themselves instead of being stuck in the past, solely promoting their previous album. Yellowcard has found their niche with Lights & Sounds, moving past the quiet, undiscovered talent whose key sell factor was the fact that they had a violin. No longer is this band a pop-punk band, or even a pop-punk band with a violin. This band is a mature, radio-rock band, with a combination of incredibly produced guitars, limitless energy, and powerful, generous vocal melodies that make Lights & Sounds truly easy on the ears. Though it's obvious their musical presence has matured, the newer lyrics are also definitely more in-depth and personal. Progressing as a band since their 2003 release, this album is definitely worthy of the 3-year wait their fans endured and an assured work that lands well beyond the walls of stock pop/punk, right where Yellowcard was aiming.