This week, Yellowcard puts out their eighth studio album, Southern Air. In fairness, when given a chance, the effort put into this record is truly audible. And you were wondering why, or maybe how, Yellowcard was still making music.
If Yellowcard hit their artistic peak here in 2012, then it’s a true shame. “Ocean Avenue,” recorded in 2004, was a huge success, partly because it was so fun and partly because it simply jived with the style of the times. Pop punk was big then! But now where has it gone? The band’s demographic has grown up and moved on from the angsty pop-rock revolution and now it’s only left to nostalgia. Though many eager fans have come and gone, whoever’s left to listen is in for a real treat.
You’ll hear the hint of head-banging indulgence only in “Here I Am Alive,” where vocalist Ryan Key spits out “So many people close to me cut me down” and “I jumped, I fell, I hit the ground/But here I am alive.” Aside from that, Southern Air is a real changeup.
Anyone who’s plagued by heartbreak or bitterness can find strength in Southern Air’s bangers. Even true love comes to life in “Telescope,” encouraging fans to sing along, belting “you’re my only hope, you’re my telescope” over and over. This is definitely a sing-along record, and when the moments slow down, the album is absolutely symphonic and brilliant. And a genuinely pleasant surprise, given the underestimation in the band’s lull of an era. (Like, weren’t they so 2005??)
With Southern Air, Yellowcard talks of a time and a place that has emotional gravity in its writers. The significance of a part of a person so connected to something, or connected enough to pen an entire album on the love for the feeling in Southern comfort, is nearly overbearing. This song, as a closer, ties everything together soulfully.
Southern Air doesn’t fit everybody’s style and that’s for sure. Yellowcard goes hard on guitar and high on vocals, revisiting a time when angsty teen jams were the latest and greatest thing in music. But the writing and time spent on composition really can’t go unnoticed. There’s a force that transcends time and trends when good music is produced, and somehow Yellowcard grew past that. Even as band members have come and gone over the band’s 15-year history and tonal styles have morphed, it seems that now they’ve finally got it right.
The album’s strongest moment happens in the wisdom of “Sleep In The Snow.” We’re elated to hear “I wanted to you the depth of this dream/the one where I see you and fall finally.” The instrumental before the song’s broken down bridge sends it all home.
Yellowcard also deserves recognition for a delicate cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” featured on the bonus edition of Southern Air. The song that’s been done every which way has been done again by this alternative punk band, and this time it was toyed with only delicately but delivered passionately. You said it couldn’t be done and it was done ever so poignantly, sending happy listeners off even more pleased and surprised than they might have ever fathomed.