With their major-label debut, 2003’s Ocean Avenue, Jacksonville, Fla., pop-punk outfit Yellowcard delivered the kind of speedy, highly emotional tunes that make TRL studio audiences squeal and more than a million CDs fly off store shelves. The band also demonstrated that a classically trained, rock-lovin’ fiddle player could actually expect more from life than a gig with the local Dave Matthews Band tribute act.
There’s still plenty of kinetic crunch (and lots more of violinist Sean Mackin’s deftly bowed figures) on Lights and Sounds. The title track crams all of the genre’s essential tropes — distorted power chords, abrupt dynamic shifts, and singsong melodies — into three and a half minutes of radio-friendly fire, and ”Rough Landing, Holly” is a blustery tale of puppy love gone to the dogs that will surely make for a great ringtone.
But we already knew that Yellowcard have the antsy angst thing down. What’s surprising, given their rep as just another cookie-cutter teen-emo band, is how well they fare when enlisting unlikely guests for two numbers that abandon their area of expertise altogether. 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 when 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, neither of them sounds like they’ve ever heard of a little thing called the Warped Tour.