Yellowcard saw a triumphant return into the music industry earlier this year with its fifth studio record, When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes. The album blended characteristics of the group’s breakout Ocean Avenue and its more ambitious Paper Walls, all the while making the bold point that they weren’t just back, but back with a new focus and hunger.
As is becoming something of a trend for Hopeless Records’ roster, we now get the opportunity to hear the entirety of When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes in an acoustic form. However, as is fully apparent from opener “The Sound of You and Me,” much more effort and time was put into this project than one might originally expect from the idea. Ryan Key’s normally high-flying vocals are kept slightly in check to match the stripped down instrumentation, but he still remains the backbone of Yellowcard’s instantly identifiable sound.
As should be expected by those familiar with Yellowcard, the percussion on this acoustic record is nothing short of extraordinary. Longineu Parsons completely rips it, using a variety of instruments to inject a huge layer of depth into an unexpectedly well-produced record. When listeners hear the cascading layers of “Hang You Up,” the amount of care and effort put into this project becomes more apparent – and this is something that fans should be well appreciative of. An acoustic version of a record is an undertaking that many bands would approach lazily, but this one defies that standard.
The midsection of When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, which I previously called its strongest sequence, holds up surprisingly well when stripped down. “Life of Leaving Home,” “Hide” and “Soundtrack” all build on each other in their original versions based on the energy present in each track. Thanks primarily to Sean Mackin’s delicate violin work and Ryan Mendez’s amazing job on the guitars (his contribution to the depth of these songs cannot be pointed out enough), this sequence still holds strong.
Most of the people that listen to the acoustic version of When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes will be the ones who are already familiar with this album. They will be the ones who already know the words and melodies by heart. While this is not the proper way to get introduced to a Yellowcard record by any means, it’s definitely a good way for the band to give back to its fans. Although it’s become repetitive by now, the effort and attention to detail put into the acoustic versions of these songs makes this a worthwhile and notable release – in fact, it makes The Dangerous Summer’s attempt at an acoustic version of Reach for the Sun look sloppy and careless. And while When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes might get overlooked in a year that has seemingly given us a never-ending supply of fantastic music, it’ll be hard to not notice Yellowcard as they continue their steady, swift climb back to prominence.