Yellowcard
Southern Air


2.0
poor

Review

by toxin USER (20 Reviews)
August 14th, 2012 | 28 replies | 3,534 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Well, wasn't this the most surprising misfire of 2012?

10 of 17 thought this review was well written

There is an important contrast to be made between When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes’s “Be the Young” and Southern Air’s “Here I Am Alive” that reveals what makes Yellowcard’s latest effort feel so lacking. Lyrically, both declare a similar sentiment of eternal youth. But the former captures the wistfulness that comes with the acknowledgement that despite their declaration, people do grow up. It’s that last hurrah before the band grows up. “Here I Am Alive” shows a regression in this sense; the band undoes those hints of maturity with an undeniably upbeat and almost cheery song reveling about how they have either “grown old” or “grown up” but “have not done both.” Well it’s clear that the band has grown old---lead singer Ryan Key is now 32. But without the subtle recognition that their youthful escapades must end, the band sounds as childish as Peter Pan never wanting to grow up.

Consider the third track, “Always Summer.” As their signature metaphor for youth, summer has been used in Yellowcard songs for quite a while, even if it’s simply through the metonymy of beaches or even California. That the band would note that “it’s always summer in [their] heart and soul” could be them using clever, self-directed satire but sadly is simply Yellowcard retreading the same ideas that they have in the past. But even so, the fact that the songs’ lyrical topics are juvenile even by Yellowcard’s standards does not automatically mean that the lyrics are asinine or that the songs aren’t enjoyable. No, what ultimately cripples the album musically is the band’s insistence to add a summery vibe to a style comparable to their least summery album, Paper Walls, a reflection of this same indecisiveness regarding the band’s attitude towards growing up.

The band certainly improves in toning down the loudness that plagued Paper Walls, but the resulting clearer audio shows a band too often pushing the tempo at the expense of their signature catchiness. Yet unlike their 2007 effort, the band does not commit to this change, and we are left with a mediocre blend of two different styles (perhaps a literal representation of the genre pop-punk). The formula does succeed at times; “Surface of the Sun” is unpredictable for Yellowcard standards regarding the timing of the choruses, which allows it to coalesce a drum-driven verse and a soaring chorus (despite its lackluster melody) into a standout, fresh track. But then songs like the aforementioned “Always Summer” attempt to fuse a verse devoid of an interesting melody from Key with a poppy chorus, and the disappointing result is a disjointed mess, neither catchy nor exciting. Similarly suffering is “Southern Air,” which starts off promisingly but attempts to retain some sort of catchiness, thus falling apart by the first chorus. Even when the band singularly commits to melody (“Here I Am Alive” and “Telescope”) or fast-paced excitement (“Awakening” and “Sleep in the Snow”), the results are mixed; the former of each group fails due generally to choruses whose poppiness feel forced and contrived, whereas the latter of each succeeds due to the natural, organic nature of its composition. In particular, “Sleep in the Snow” stands out due to its excellent drumwork (as per usual for Longineu Parsons) and interesting lyrics (using winter metaphorically as a counterpoint to their figurative summer). However, ultimately the band tries to reinvent its sound while staying true to its roots, which unfortunately feels too much like an adolescent trying to cope with maturity by hanging onto the past.

“Ten” gets a special place because it epitomizes another important issue in this album. Unlike the remarkably consistent When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, almost every song on Southern Air has some weak point in addition to varying degrees of strengths. On a micro-level, focusing on the lyrically based ballad reveals Key’s awful line of “You would be ten and I’d be driving you to school/ You would tell all your friends that you thought I was cool.” Any emotional impact of some of the more poignant lyrics is negated by the sheer laziness of the second half of that rhyme. Sadly, indeed the entire song suffers due to it. That line, and others such as “You would be watching Star Wars/ With your PJs on,” ruins easily the best melody of the album and possibly of Yellowcard’s career. Thus, on a macro-level, the peaks of the album are lower than those on every other previous album, allowing the valleys to drag down the album to mediocrity.

Yellowcard always have leaned more to the pop end of pop-punk, complete with their unique blend of youthful naivety and nostalgia. At their best, they are akin to a 23 year old with eidetic memory, being able to perfectly recreate the summer romances and teenage angst with rose-colored glasses while subtly displaying self-awareness regarding this bias. In Southern Air, the band seems more like the sad 30 year old reliving his glory days while the world moves on without him. The melodies are simply not up to par; there is a reliance on Sean Mackin’s violin as melody (instead of counter-melody), in addition to uninteresting guitar riffs from Ryan Mendez (despite a nifty guitar solo) and surprisingly uninspiring vocal melodies from Key. This is in no doubt due to the band increasing emphasis on the punk in pop-punk while avoiding straying from their comfort area, revealing a failed attempt to feign both musical and lyrical maturity. The result is an album brimming with potential that ultimately fails in providing the nostalgic and musical experience this Yellowcard fan expects.



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user ratings (415)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
toxin.
August 14th 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

First review in a while. I'm surprised by the positive response this has been getting.
Also, I'll fix the summary tomorrow; it's late and honestly Sputnik has been lagging crazy hard.

NorwichScene
August 14th 2012



1409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Always summer is the 3rd track, not 4th.

I personally disagree with a lot of what you have said. I thought similar on first listen, but now on the 5th listen I'm digging this. Here I am Alive and Southern Air are the only average songs for me.

Always Summer, Sleep in the Snow and Ten are my favourites. It's definitely not a 2 (poor) as your rating, prob a 3.8 so I'll round up to 4

Digging: Flood of Red - Throw

Kris.
August 14th 2012



12152 Comments


how dare you

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
August 14th 2012



19453 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think you should compare "be the young" to "here, I am, alive". Those songs aren't similar at all. Can't agree with your rating but seems to be well written

Digging: The Who - Tommy

ProjectFreak
August 14th 2012



1293 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"and the disappointing result is disjoint"
*disjointed

i disagree 100% with you on almost every point you made, but i can't deny a well-written review when i see one.

skoopy48
August 14th 2012



1435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i love this album, but good review nonetheless

KSK1
August 14th 2012



4072 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Although I highly disagree, this was pretty well written. I'm really enjoying this album though.

nash1311
August 14th 2012



1754 Comments


"Although I highly disagree, this was pretty well written." x2

pos

Knott-
Emeritus
August 14th 2012



10194 Comments


album rules shut up

toxin.
August 14th 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@Norwich, I wish I could agree with you. I'm debating between a 2/2.5. Personally I like Yellowcard too much to think this is a 2 in terms of likability, but after reading my review it didn't read like a 2.5. I suppose as far as YC albums go, it's a "poor" effort in my opinion.

@UhhKris, hah, as if you care.

@Atari, I'm not comparing them musically but lyrically. I really picked up vibes that the band matured in WYTTSY. They were subtle, yeah, but there. That's what disappointed me (besides the poor [in my opinion] melodies)

@ProjectFreak, thanks for the correction.

@Knott, ditto Kris

(And thanks everyone for your positive comments.)

toxin.
August 16th 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Never thought I'd see the day I would get ghost negs for giving a Yellowcard album a low rating.

A lot has changed since last year, huh?

nash1311
August 16th 2012



1754 Comments


Comes with the territory. negative reviews on albums generally well received that is

toxin.
August 16th 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I've known that about this site. But I always imagined it'd happen with a band more like Brand New or Thrice or something more "Sputnik" than Yellowcard.

peartnoy
August 21st 2012



1153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The negs are stupid. This is a great review, even if obviously I disagree.

toxin.
August 21st 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks bud. I'm glad to see people are enjoying this even if I'm not.

peartnoy
August 21st 2012



1153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You're welcome man. A good review is a good review, the opinion doesn't matter.

joshieboy12345
August 22nd 2012



5370 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Disagree with everything you have said, but a good review. This album is a real grower, keep listening and you might start to enjoy it.

Digging: Rise Against - The Black Market

toxin.
August 22nd 2012



12021 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

That's the second "disagree with everything" I've gotten. Didn't know my opinions were so different from people's. I've never been much of a contrarian.

Anyways, that's the one hope I have for this album. Aside from Lights and Sounds, everything they've put out has been pretty immediate for me, but I could see this particular album growing. (I did listen to the album 4x, and a few songs more than that, when I wrote this review, though.)

peartnoy
August 22nd 2012



1153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Another neg, really?

ChuckyTruant
August 22nd 2012



15707 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just picked this up at best buy like an hour ago

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails



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