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Sinking to new lows

Rock

Yellowcard

Paper Walls
(Capitol)
Essential: "The Takedown"

Yellowcard took emo melodrama to a distasteful low when the video for its love song "Only One," from 2003's "Ocean Avenue," channeled the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square protests to portray singer Ryan Key and his onscreen girlfriend standing before an advancing column of tanks. It was a profoundly shallow and self-aggrandizing moment, but the mistake obviously hasn't taught the Florida pop-punkers to get over themselves. Throughout "Paper Walls," band members work themselves into laughable tizzies of teen angst, propelled by Key's capable-but-whiney voice and his bandmates' capable-but-generic uptempo rock. The band does display a stronger sense of melody and arrangement than some of its peers -- say, Fall Out Boy -- and with lyrics like the unhinged "I would explode just to save your life," from "Light Up the Sky," they certainly deserve points for enthusiasm, if not coherence. But in the end, it's just fresh fodder for "Total Request Live." You've heard these tales of broken relationships and lonely nights before, but you've heard them done with sincerity (the Get Up Kids) and a sense of humor (early blink-182). There's no reason to hear them from Yellowcard. [David Kieley]

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