Everyone has that one song that they'll hear on the radio and will instantly be taken back to an old time. For many, Yellowcard's 'Ocean Avenue' defined an era of young love and recklessness. Yellowcard captured essence of an era in Ocean Avenue, their 2003 album that truly had the sound of the times.
For those who consider Yellowcard part of their life's soundtrack, Ocean Avenue is the sound of their middle school or high school years. Much of Ocean Avenue captures that young reckless abandon of living life to the fullest and feeling invincible, but also fragile. The huge intro 'Way Away' brings the album to a bustling start, capturing the wild and free nature the band went for, while Ryan Key sings of escaping to somewhere he'll feel free: "Way away away from here I'll be / Way away away so you can see / How it feels to be alone and not believe anything." Insecurity lends itself to reflection later on, which is what 'Life Of A Salesman' tackles, Key singing about his youth and, more thankfully, about his father, and how he's grown to want to be the man that his father was.
There's a lot to Ocean Avenue that makes it feel insecure and unknowing. Part of it is the drive of the raging guitars that roar to life in 'Breathing' and 'Inside Out.' Another side to it is the diversity of the record - there are a lot of different types of tracks, from the bright, country-reminiscent 'View From Heaven' to the sweet, slow ballad 'Empty Apartment' that highlights the violin - that make it seem like the band is still trying to find their own identity, which definitely helped the high school audience latch on.
What affects this most, however, is the message behind the music. There's a reason 'Ocean Avenue' is so iconic. It captures that nostalgia of young love, and that want for it in the present. The chorus so anthemically chants "If I could find you now things would get better / We could leave this town and run forever / I know somewhere, somehow we'll be together," perfectly capturing the essence of young love, and even being accurate now to someone important you miss. The odes to love don't end there, 'Only You' powerfully capturing the sentiment of being in love with the one you know is meant for you, followed by the more driven 'Miles Apart' which sounds like it'd stop at nothing to make that a reality. The idea of optimism and feeling alone reigns free in Ocean Avenue, and is the reason why so many hail it as the album of their teenage years.
Yellowcard captured the essence of an era in Ocean Avenue, giving countless people something to confide in when they needed to feel that rush of importance. Ocean Avenue is fragile, free, and loud, and just like any teenager, seems to have many emotions that it sometimes doesn't know how to get out. It's an album that understands in more ways than just the words. That's something special.
Favorite Tracks: Ocean Avenue, Way Away, Only One
Least Favorite Track: View From Heaven
Rating: 80 / 100
Stream or buy Ocean Avenue on Apple Music, and follow our Throwback Playlist on Spotify: