Yellowcard makes its major-label debut with Ocean Avenue. This SoCal punk-pop fivesome slightly softens the edges found on its previous two albums in what is an attempt to win over the TRL crowd. Regardless of the reasons why, Yellowcard works with that familiar formula of spastic, crunchy guitar licks, emo-inspired lyrics, and vocals tailored for that tinny, whiny effect. Some say it's been done before, and by 2003 it surely had, but Yellowcard seems to not give a care about it because Ocean Avenue delivers despite of its catchy recipe. The 13-song set switches in mood and tempo for a layered, dynamic sound, and vocalist Ryan Key could very well chasten Dashboard Confessional's Christopher Carrabba about keeping things short and simple. Songs like "Way Away" and "Empty Apartment" thrive on the basics of rock & roll -- foliated guitars weaved in between high-speed percussion. But that's not all. Yellowcard has a secret component when it comes to crafting its own punk-inspired presentation. Violinist Sean Mackin is impressively skilled, and his talent allows Yellowcard to have a bit of an advantage in making something sound original and fresh. "Believe" and the acoustic guitars of "One Year, Six Months" are proof of that. Ocean Avenue isn't exactly outstanding in the sense that this band has done something outrageously different, but it is a worthy collection of songs with a real heart; that alone shows that Yellowcard is on to something solid.
AllMusic Review by MacKenzie Wilson