Review Summary: All expectations aside, "Southern Air" is another great effort from Ryan Key and Co.
When Yellowcard announced they would release "Southern Air" this summer, fans everywhere began to form unrealistic expectations of what the bands 8th album should sound like. Some had the notion this would sound like last years release or "Ocean Avenue", while others were eagerly hoping the band would re-create the feel of "Paper Walls" or "Lights and Sounds." Whichever category you fall into, "Southern Air" has enough variety to appeal to any Yellowcard fan.
Within "Southern Air" lie ten new tracks full of energy, great vocals, and of course, the violin. I mean let's face it, that violin helps give the band a fuller sound thanks to Sean Mackin who has been around since the formation of the band. Luckily, the other bandmates manage to impress as well. The drums are as always, much better than the average pop-punk group. Just go spin the eccentric "Sleep in the Snow" and it will become apparent just how much the drummer brings to the table. The guitars are also as pleasing to the ears as in the past, especially when accompanied by Key's signature vocals and that heavenly violin. Hell, even the bass can be noticed on some tracks which is saying a lot for this genre.
The album starts with "Awakening." At first this song doesn't seem overly exciting, but after repeated listens it's catchy riffs and hooks will win you over. Next up is "Surface of the Sun," which contains verses that are equally as catchy as the chorus making it a very enjoyable track. This is immediately followed by two more great tracks, "Always Summer" and "Here I Am, Alive". The latter of the two may seem a bit poppy at first but it's a grower and has to be one of the catchiest songs they've ever written. Another stand-out track is "A Vicious Kind," which has a darker tone to it as Key sings " I want you to know that I'm not sorry at all, you can't buy forgiveness or blame me for the fall." This song sounds like it would have fit perfectly on "Lights and Sounds."
Unfortunately the last four songs can't quite match the quality found in the first half of the album but they are still good tunes. "Rivertown Blues" is sure to become a fan favorite and "Southern Air" brings the album to a satisfying conclusion. Those expecting another Ocean Avenue or Paper Walls may be disappointed, but if you listen closely, you will hear influences from every Yellowcard album on "Southern Air." They aren't reinventing the wheel or even progressing but that doesn't keep this album from being what it is. Simply enjoyable.