The year was 2003. Cargo pants were in, camera phones were catching on, and the ultimate “summer” song had just been released: a 3 1/2 minute pop punk track by a band with – of all things – a violin.

Yellowcard catapulted into the spotlight with the release of Ocean Avenue but in the twenty years since the band has experienced more than its fair share of ups and downs; magazine covers, radio airplay, TV syncs, lineup changes, even a brief hiatus. So when they announced their breakup and Self-Titled album in 2016, it truly seemed that they were closing that chapter of their lives for good.

Until Childhood Eyes.

From the first playthrough of the band’s Equal Vision Records debut it becomes clear that this isn’t just a reunion; the five song EP is a succinct statement that Yellowcard is back.

Childhood Eyes hits the ground running with the unrelenting “Three Minutes More (feat. Vic Fuentes of Pierce The Veil)”. With its punchy vocal melodies and anxious guitars, this is not the sunny Yellowcard that fans have come to expect. However the song’s message of hope that things will be different this time around (“It’s different this time looking up at the sky / three minutes more might just save me this time”) and the emotionally-charged violin that drives the bridge are unmistakably Yellowcard.

Title track “Childhood Eyes” sees the band mixing warmer guitar tones with a dancing bass melody, and from the opening notes it’s clear that quartet have returned with a renewed sense of self. The violin is a comforting presence throughout and the repeated refrain “I am the love you need” recalls 2012’s “Always Summer” (“I loved you first / I love you still”), reinforcing the feeling of optimism and reawakening.

“Hiding In The Light” continues to build that sense of urgency and anticipation, making it clear that the band is just getting started. Front man Ryan Key sings of “drowning in the dark” but the chorus surges as he adamantly declares: “now I choose life / and I’ll get by / and sing until the day I die”. Rounding out the song are soaring solos courtesy of guitarist Ryan Mendez and violinist Sean Mackin.

Fragmented drumming characterizes the verses of the penultimate track, “Honest From The Jump”. However that tension dissipates within the choruses as the drums become more restrained and layered vocals create space for all of the song’s various melodies to blend.

Yellowcard was laid to rest on their “final” Self-Titled album in closing track “Fields and Fences”. But with Childhood Eyes fans are given “The Places We’ll Go (feat. Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional)”, a song that finds the band ready to embark on a new journey. The track is powerful in its vulnerability, with Key’s poignant vocals conveying acceptance and gratitude for the past, as well as hope for what comes next. The song’s thoughtful pacing and acoustic guitars make it a standout within an otherwise unyielding collection.

It’s not often that a band gets a second – or in Yellowcard’s case, third – chance, but Childhood Eyes is so much more than that. Though the EP clocks in at just under 22 minutes, it’s enough to realize that this is a completely different band than the one that called in quits in 2016. It’s an EP that feels inspired, and leaves you with that same feeling Ocean Avenue did back in 2003: like this is just the beginning.