Posted by Karen Marchuska on 08/29 at 11:47 AM
After being a band for 10 years, you would think Yellowcard might run out of things to write about. Instead, they took all those experiences from the decade that they’ve been making music together and turned it into an album full of songs about believing in yourself and overcoming anything, both of which they’ve had to do plenty of. Though their sound has morphed and matured through the years, this album is very reminiscent of their major label debut from 2003, Ocean Avenue, with the soaring violin solos and their scathingly personal, but oh-so-relatable lyrics. With that album they challenged the genre of pop-rock, and with this new release they personally hammer the last nail into the coffin of conformity. Instead of infusing their tracks with overly produced pop synths and beats, they sprinkle in some violin and intense rock’n’roll drumming, making the sound uniquely theirs.
The opening track of the album is “Awakening,” a strong anthem for putting the past behind you and empowering yourself to move forward, despite the wrong that somebody has done to you. It comes full on, starting the album off with high energy that carries through the next few tracks. “Here I Am Alive,” features guest vocals from Tay Jardine of the band We Are the In Crowd that intertwines perfectly with lead singer Ryan Key’s. This song is the second single from the album and comes from the band’s experiences getting dropped by labels and pushed around by the industry and the media, with lyrics like: “They’ll say you’re never coming back and tell you that you’re cursed, and when they give up cause they always give up say, here I am alive.”
“Always Summer,” the first single of the album, will definitely appeal to fans of Ocean Avenue. With the summer romance vibes, it’s a perfect transition song that will reel in pop fans as well as punk/alternative listeners.
The highest energy song on the album, “Surface of the Sun,” is full of solid rock guitar and drum beats and packs a strong vocal delivery from Key as he sings of a burning desire to prove themselves. The other three rock-heavy tracks: “Sleep in the Snow,” “A Vicious Kind,” and “Rivertown Blues,” successfully melt the violin right in with the powerful guitar sounds to create extremely catchy punk-rock infused tunes.
And it wouldn’t be a true Yellowcard album without a ballad, which comes to you in the track “Ten.” This truly moving song comes from a very personal place in Key’s heart and you can hear the pain and longing as he sings of losing a child. Another song that comes straight from Key’s emotions is “Telescope,” which he wrote about his late Aunt Stephanie who was the band’s first fan and strongest believer. “Telescope” is one of the standout tracks on the album with perfectly placed harmonies from Jardine, Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low, and Cassadee Pope. What makes these harmonies so good is that they don’t overcrowd the song, only coming in for the chorus and some vocal riffs at the end of the song.
The album ends perfectly with the title track, “SouthernAir.” In this song Key reaffirms his beliefs that despite all that the band has been through, they know who they are, singing: “This southern air is in my lungs, it’s in every word I’ve sung, seems the only truth I know, this will always be home.” It’s a great way to sum up the album, both musically and lyrically, tying everything together.
Despite the band being older than most others in their genre, and despite their recent 2-year hiatus, this album almost certainly passes the brilliance of their original smash Ocean Avenue. With the extremely personal but totally relatable lyrics and mature musicianship, this album solidly places Yellowcard back at the top of their genre where they belong.
Author: Karen Marchuska
Bio: Karen Marchuska is a junior majoring in Public Relations and minoring in English and Marketing at Penn State. She enjoys reading, running, chocolate milk and listening to any music she can get pumping though her headphones. Although she listens to a wide range of artists, some of her favorites are: Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, All Time Low, Yellowcard, The Ready Set, Drake, The Rocket Summer, Demi Lovato, Keith Urban, and The Summer Set.
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