Review Summary: Let's just keep driving on
Most people that talk about Yellowcard will talk about how nostalgia-inducing they are, how the band really brings them back to simpler times that the listener longs for and wants to relive again and again. I don't share that same listening experience with them, partly because I'm currently in that "simpler time" that Yellowcard captures the essence of in their music, but mostly because I discovered them at a time in my life that I would never want to have to relive. A lot of family members lost, first loves gone wrong, etc...you get the idea. That was right around the time their last album, When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
was released, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. While it wasn't particularly deep or thoughtful, I related to it 100% (not to mention it's incredibly catchy). It was perfect for that time, but obviously listening to it now wouldn't bring back memories that I'd want to remember.
Now, about a year and a half in the future, they've released Southern Air
. Things are going my way, I don't need an album to relate to like I did last year. Of course this time around, it wasn't going to be as special to me. While listening to it I had to think, is the music as good without a personal bias? Be it nostalgia or, in my case, vulnerability to an album like it. When I was through thinking, I said yes. Yellowcard has never been a band that switched things up all too much; they've made simple, honest pop-punk for people that need exactly that almost their entire career, and their formula hasn't failed them yet. Southern Air
is every bit as relatable and fun as anything else they've done, and it's unmistakably a Yellowcard album.
A very familiar part of the album is that some songs are much better than others. Songs like Surface of the Sun
, A Vicious Kind
, and Telescope
show that the band still has a knack for massive choruses with the infectious, soaring melodies. Most of the tracks are as memorable as one would like, even someone with no prior connection to Yellowcard would love the catchiness of the title track or Sleep in the Snow
. Of course some songs fall flat, like the ballad of the album Ten
which, like most Yellowcard ballads, comes out quite corny and forgettable. Other songs like Here I Am Alive
and Rivertown Blues
are little more than enjoyable little numbers that you nod your head to then forget about when the next song comes on. Not that anything is done wrong in these songs perse, they're just not done quite as right as others and blend in when put amongst those songs on the album.
Ryan Key's slightly above average lyrics about regret, love, loss, and anything like it that an adult would look back on his teenage years and think about still have that certain something that hits you and makes you feel what he's saying, and are sung in a voice that's slightly more matured than in previous releases. The instrumentation is still made up of catchy chords, drumming that is fast and energetic, and the occasional well-placed violin line. Lines like "It's always summer in my heart and in my soul" or "I give this one to you/an anthem full of truths" prove that Yellowcard are still doing what their fans need from them; summertime anthems for everyone's inner teenager.
Sure, it's easy to say that they're out of ideas and they've been rehashing what they did nine years ago on Ocean Avenue
ever since then. To someone that has no previous personal connection to the band, it could very well seem that way. However, if someone that was in high school when Ocean Avenue
came out heard this, they'd get the sense of nostalgia that they'd want from a new Yellowcard album. If someone is in a similar position to mine last year and they heard this, it would have the same uplifting, somewhat inspiring effect on them that When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes
had on me. Is that not the point of this band? We're all now comfortable in the niche the band has found, and it's albums just like Southern Air
that found it. I think many people, myself included, owe Yellowcard a thank you for that.