It’s been just about a year since Yellowcard proved their outstanding and dominant place back on the scene with their seventh studio album. “When You’re Done Thinking, Say Yes,” was a hit amongst fans and critics alike, and it was clear to all that the two year hiatus of the band had not set them back a beat in the least. Now, they’ve released “Southern Air,” a further indication that these pop-punk heroes are here to stay, and to please fans both old and new.
The album opener, “Awakening,” and even “Surface of the Sun” are both classic Yellowcard. From the rifts of the guitars to the catchy melodies and chorus lines, it sends a brief flashback to 2003, when the band really made a name for themselves and burst onto the scene with their old-school summer anthem, “Ocean Avenue.”
“Telescope” is a standout track-a good break between the old and the new. I think it to be one of the more lyrically endearing tracks on the album, portraying the loss of a loved one, though doing so musically that the listener may only know this if they were to listen closely and analyze the lyrics. Guest vocals from both Alex Gaskarth (All Time Low) and Tay Jardine (We Are the In Crowd) only contribute to the already musically pleasing chorus, and the overall feel of the track seems carefree initially, speaking of nights under the stars in a way that could be depicted as a youthful and carefree, summer. The emotion of the lyrics though, again, is undeniable once recognized, and the catchiness of the hooks and verses are, again, an old habit for Yellowcard; and while this may not always be the case on every track off this album, this time it’s a successful habit at that.
Both these tracks lack the contribution of the violin, however: a key element that has stuck with Yellowcard through each of their previous albums. In fact, we’re not given a taste of the strings directly until “Rivertown Blues.” It’s a definite change of sound for the band, though done so that the progression of the band is distinctly recognized. The violin laces the melody, as it does throughout the remainder of the album; it’s constant, though subtle presence is genius. It’s the guitar solo, however, that grabs the attention of this track. Despite being a long-time fan, I can’t say that I’ve heard Yellowcard ever like this, if at all.
And while almost every album has a successful ballad thrown into the mix, I’m a little thrown by “Ten.” Perhaps it’s the placement of the track, or just the contrast between two heavier, guitar rift driven songs, but it seems to upset the flow of the album and the natural progression that “Southern Air,” portrays within itself. This isn’t to say that “Ten” isn’t a success. Overall, I can honestly say it’s still one of my favorites of the album, and by far contains the most raw and honest emotion, tackling the personal trouble and heartbreak of losing a child. Musically, it’s a success, despite the odd arrangement.
What makes this release an unquestionable summer album is its ability to reel in both die-hard, decade-worthy fans, and those who are taking a listen for the very first time. It’s the sort of lineup that makes you want to roll the car windows down and blare it as loud as it can go. On nearly every track, you can feel the emotion and the power of every last chord, beat, and word. Overall, a success for Yellowcard, and an incredibly high bar set for any further releases to come.