"Where is your inspiration? You lost it long ago," singer Ryan Key accuses on "Starstruck," the first track on Yellowcard's debut record. Hey, give the guy a break — three years before the Jacksonville, Florida, group became a TRL-approved institution, Key and his bandmates were still seeking their own identity. They didn't quite find it on One for the Kids, but their early ambitions prove far more interesting than the band's current metier of polished arena-punk anthems.
On …Kids, Yellowcard flirts with all kinds of styles: grunge ("Sureshot"), thrash ("Rock Star Land"), even drum solos ("Big Apple Heartbreak"), with only Key's charmingly naive love-gone-wrong lyrics giving away the band's future teen-pop appeal. Violinist and back-up vocalist Sean Mackin isn't as integrated into the band's sound this early on, but he does provide some pretty harmonies and great string work on the White Album-esque "Cigarette." Not only is it a great ballad, but the song is a far cry from the New Found Glory/Simple Plan framework that dogs most modern punk, not to mention Yellowcard itself. Perhaps some day the band will revisit the more confusing, and yet more engaging, roots sketched out on this album.