Review Summary: Yellowcard has grown so much, quite crazy to imagine, compared to 2001's One for the Kids.
Yellowcard - the mainstream pop-punkers that are somewhat recognized for their famous/infamous violin work. Of course, this does not justify the band's sound. Even so, the group's latest album, Southern Air, on Hopeless Records, delivers an impactful set of tracks that are just as hard-hitting as the top-charting tunes on their 2003 release, Ocean Avenue. While it may appear to be another standard pop-punk CD that you could find in the Wal-Mart music section, this does not change the facts - it is a great collection of impressive tracks, likely some of the greatest that Yellowcard has released in years.
2007's Paper Walls was mediocre (in my humble opinion), so for me, pressing play on a new Yellowcard album was a double-edged sword. I had no idea what to expect. I must admit, I was subconsciously determined to judge the album based on what it offered from the start. With ears tensed, I apprehensively allowed the opening track, "Awakening", to display it's potential.
Ryan Key opens the track with his usual - poetic, quite creative lyrics, hummed gently amongst a mellow rhythm. And with the line, "I want this to be my awakening", the rest of the band detonates, becoming a furious, thrashy fray that is Yellowcard's recognizable sound. With this single track being so pleasing to my ears, I loosened up, and became determined to give the rest of the album a listen.
Yellowcard has a distinct sound that encompasses every album they release. Many pop-punk bands simply drown in the unforgiving mainstream world, but Yellowcard has a certain "vibe" that will not give out, even with a repetitive string of albums released over the years. Even so, it is quite obvious that Yellowcard's sound has grown over time. Southern Air is likely the band's most "mature" album yet. It is filled to the rims with more personal, mysterious "ballads" (I use that term loosely), such as "Surface of the Sun", "A Vicious Kind" and "Rivertown Blues". These tracks definitely display the group's serious tactics. Perhaps we must accept the fact that Ryan Key is growing up.
While we have the ability to amalgamate this album (and artist) into the somewhat sickening world of mainstream pop-punk, it is best left out. While there is no experimental work present on Yellowcard's albums, they still manage to create diverse, tightly-knit tracks that are pleasing to the world. It is safe to say, Yellowcard is growing up, and each release shows a change. The best ethic is to simply take each album as they throw them at us. I will definitely rank this as the group's greatest album since One For the Kids, and that says quite a lot.