Yellowcard
Lift a Sail


2.5
average

Review

by ProjectFreak USER (27 Reviews)
October 10th, 2014 | 42 replies


Release Date: 10/07/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Running aground.

Of course Yellowcard marketed Lift a Sail as a dramatic reinvention of their style. Of course the rumor mills threw comparisons like Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana around. Of course everyone vaunted how huge everything sounded, how everything belonged in a stadium. And maybe they had to write an album like Lift a Sail. Maybe, for whatever reason, Ryan Key didn't trust Nathan Young (of Anberlin fame) to keep up with the blistering drumming that Longineu Parsons made a trademark. Maybe Southern Air was the perfection of the super-melodic pop-punk they've been honing for more than a decade, and they knew they had to move on.

There's a good deal of speculation, but it's an attempt to make sense of what my ears have been telling me for days. Lift a Sail is the worst Yellowcard album since their mainstream breakthrough.

Album after album, fans knew pretty much what to expect from Yellowcard: up-tempo pop-punk with violin countermelodies, nasal vocals about nostalgia, loves lost and Key's deceased aunt, and big huge choruses. And they were almost always good at it. It's shocking how much Yellowcard was able to wring out of such a simple formula. But after 17 years in the business, the band decided to abandon pop-punk for a more alt-rock flavor. Or, that's what they said leading up to the release. Instead, we basically have pop-punk, but slower and less sincere.

It's not that any song is particularly awful. It's just that almost everything feels painfully safe. "Make Me So" aims so squarely for the "cheeky prepubescent girl jam" demographic that it turns into an utter snoozefest, and Key's stuttering vocals in the chorus are cringeworthy. The slow-burning "One Bedroom," "MSK" and piano ballad "California" show none of the vulnerability that turned otherwise pedestrian past ballads into stunners.

"This doesn't really sound like much of a rock album," you say. Ah, but Yellowcard tries at that too -- and it's still boring. "Crash the Gates" has no sense of urgency; few songs have ever tried so hard to craft a "huge" sound, with its tappy guitar riffs and slow percussion, and sounded quite so hollow. "Fragile and Dear" and "The Deepest Well", minus Memphis May Fire's Matty Mullins' grating guest vocals in the latter, are merely forgettable.

Of course, Yellowcard has too much songwriting capability to fail outright. The beautiful interlude "Convocation" is a nice preparation for "Transmission Home," which could actually fill a stadium. It's a massive anthem with big "whoas" and huge guitars, and while it feels stuck in second gear at times, it's a promising sign of the new sound's potential. Unfortunately it's never quite reached again, though the title cut comes close with its impressive textures and trademark Yellowcard vague-but-resonant anthem ("With the last sail lifted high, I am ready now...When the cold wind starts to rise, I am ready now"). And "My Mountain" is a pleasant throwback -- the chorus is zippy, the energy is high, and it could have fit nicely on the "comeback" album When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes.

It's not the change in style that cripples this album. It's the poor execution. Yellowcard both failed to bring to the table what made them a great pop-punk band (energy and sincerity in spades) and failed to embrace the benefits of alternative rock (power, punch and volume). Key delivers his worst vocal performance in years -- he may have been a little sappy on previous albums, but that was better than the half-awake delivery that punctuates most of his newest effort. Lift a Sail finds a band that painted familiar pictures in vibrant colors working with dull grays and browns, and there's little reason to give their newest work more than a passing glance.



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user ratings (244)
Chart.
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
SowingSeason STAFF (4)
Our darkest days are done....

Green Baron (3)
Sending the transmission home....



Comments:Add a Comment 
ProjectFreak
October 10th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Alternate summary: The artwork is the best part.

This feels a little long for me, but I'm so bummed that that this band wrote my 2012 AOTY and followed it up with this. Feedback appreciated and probably needed.

Ecnalzen
October 10th 2014


7266 Comments


That artwork really is pretty.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Where's sowing

ProjectFreak
October 10th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

All in good time

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


23511 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

"Lift a Sail finds a band that painted familiar pictures in vibrant colors working with dull grays and browns"



love this line. good review.

Digging: Spanish Love Songs - Schmaltz

ProjectFreak
October 10th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks man! The artwork was what inspired it honestly.

Willie
Moderator
October 10th 2014


17608 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

This is good. You can't play pop punk when you're hitting 30. Look at all the shit Greenday get for still trying to act young and angsty. Eventually the Blink-182s, NFGs and Yellowcards try to grow up. They at least go through a kind of 'mid-life crisis' where they feel they have to have a serious album before going back to their roots.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Seriously where's sowing

SowingSeason
Moderator
October 10th 2014


26968 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed with Willie, although there's definitely nothing wrong with the review. How you approach the album now reminds me of my first impression, so I get all of your complaints. This certainly is weaker than Southern Air and Ocean Avenue, but it's essentially their first stab at branching out (L&S was too long ago to be relevant ) and they actually do a decent job. This album needed to be made because even if this gets a lukewarm reception from some people, it's better than the fallout that would have come with repeated efforts to match Ocean Avenue, because to this point that's basically been their entire career. I'd rather see them at least try to be something more.



With that said though I can still appreciate your view on this, I just hope that in time you see what I do in it. Sometimes that means abandoning expectations

Digging: Collections Of Colonies Of Bees - HAWAII

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dammit sowing you dropped the ball. You're supposed to explode on this dewd

ProjectFreak
October 10th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I still stand by my position that while their sound needed to evolve, the execution is quite poor. I would like to see them

continue in this vein -- they just need to do a better job of it instead of saying "d00d let's write a RAWK ALBUMMMMM"

and going about it as half-heartedly as it sounds here.



Also I will always appreciate your courtesy Sowing.

ProjectFreak
October 10th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

also Gameofmetal if you want to explode in his absence, feel free

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I would but I'd kill u





4 reals tho pretty solid review. I'm jamming the album now and i dig it pretty well. Honestly doesn't seem like as much of a departure as I expected. Doesn't top Southern Air tho of course.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The first track was kinda weird. The riffs were oddly heavy sounding in a way and clashed with the melodic vocals.

paradox1216
Emeritus
October 10th 2014


730 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The songs on this are way too catchy for me to love it any less than I do



Really, I think the closest I come to disliking a song on this is California and it's still catchy as all hell

WhiteNoise
October 10th 2014


3614 Comments


I just don't understand the love for southern air. I'm just not hearing it.

Gameofmetal
Staff Reviewer
October 10th 2014


10304 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dude.......Awakening.......

ProjectFreak
October 11th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't find anything on here catchy except Transmission Home and My Mountain.



I think Southern Air is a masterpiece. It was my AOTY -- songwriting was just too perfect. But to each his own.

WhiteNoise
October 11th 2014


3614 Comments


Awakening has nothing on ocean avenue or lights and sounds. Hell even paper walls had the takedown.

ProjectFreak
October 11th 2014


2851 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"even paper walls"



You act like that's not one of their best albums.



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