Review Summary: Headed fast for the unknown.
By 2012, pop-punk’s massive decline was hard to ignore. Mainstays like Green Day, Blink-182, and Fall Out Boy moved on leaving the scene with a gaping hole. Sum-41 was forgotten while Paramore was phasing themselves out. It was hard to watch pop-punk bleed out before my very eyes. As fate would have it, Warped Tour would meet a similar fate 6 years later. The eternal summertime of pop-punk met winter for the first time, but the frigid wind was melted by Summer Air
, the salty sweet release from Yellowcard. It’s almost unfair how little of a reception the album received for obvious reasons. While no one was looking, Yellowcard dropped one of their best releases. Filled with energy, optimism, and hope, Southern Air
was just what listeners needed at the time.
“Bottoms up tonight/I drink to you and I/Cause with the morning comes the rest of my life,” sings Ryan Key as Yellowcard flourishes with ‘Awakening.’ As the dawn breaks, we spend the day with Yellowcard as we power through the crisp Southern coast with the wind in our sails and cares to the wind. Southern Air
tackles the maturity of the band as they look to their past to tailor their future. ‘Surface of the Sun’ goes more in-depth as the band recalls the highs and lows of their career and what it means to move on. “And getting up when we're dragged down is all we've known,” Ryan Key blares as the guitars chug a one-two punch and drums kick in the background. Tay Jardine jumps in for a spell as ‘Here I Am Alive’ introduces the lighter side of the album. ‘Here I Am Alive’ swings with a muted guitar, pop-rock beat, and sweet tone as Key and Jardine reflect on the judgement they face and desire to learn from their mistakes.
“Let's go where we belong/Headed fast as we can for the unknown,” blares Key’s bright voice as Yellowcard tears it up in ‘Telescope,’ one of the many gems in Southern Air
. Night falls on Southern Air
as Ryan Key remembers his lost child. “How it would have felt to hold you/Would you have my eyes,” he asks, as the song chugs forth. “I never got to meet you, my best friend,” he says, “You would be watching Star Wars with your PJs on.” Truly the most tragic number in Yellowcard’s discography, ‘Ten’ leaves a lasting impression after the first listen. The self-titled closer lifts our spirits with a passionate rocker about making your way home. Feeling the salt on your skin, ocean against your ears, and sea breeze through your hair is worth the pain and heartache that leads you home. ‘Southern Air’ features one of the albums best breakdowns during the bridge.
I often wonder how listeners remember American Idiot
and Enema of the State
, but Southern Air
fails to make the ranks. One of the most colorful and innovative pop-punk albums of all time was subject to bad timing. As pop-punk was at its lowest, Southern Air
screamed while no one was there to hear. The effort never paid its due, and tragically, never will. As albums like Riot
and From Under the Cork Tree
reached legend status, it wasn’t until 2016 Yellowcard came close. Pop-punk never aged well, which explains how immature it is. The genre defined by silliness and youthful optimism never grew up, but surely grew old. Southern Air
paints a realistic picture of how fame and fortune never last and the only way to live is to move on. It's almost foreshadowing what happened four years later.
River Town Blues (amazing drums)