Lift A Sail review by Yellowcard

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  • Released: Oct 7, 2014
  • Sound: 4
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 7.2 (22 votes)
Yellowcard: Lift A Sail

Sound — 4
Over the years, Ryan Key's voice has grown into a mature and easy sound to listen to. His singing skills have come a long way. However, Yellowcard's sound as a whole has taken a drastic turn. They said they wanted to stray away from pop-punk and record more of a solid rock album. You can hear the heavy influence of Coldplay (especially in tracks like "Madrid" and "MSK") and The Smashing Pumpkins ("One Bedroom" and "Fragile and Dear"). This would also be the group's most electronic release with vigorous synths and drum machines on more than half the record. Even though I'm personally not a fan of the band's new sound, I will admit that this is one of Yellowcard's best musically written albums. Tracks like "MSK" and "California" don't even have guitars, bass, or drums on them.

Lyrics — 6
Ryan Key talks a lot about his inspirations for this record. He has had quite the year. After marrying his fiancé who got into a snowboarding accident and became paralyzed from the waist down and dealing with the death of his grandparents, Key has had plenty to write about. "My Mountain" is a song about his grandfather who was also actually featured on "Paper Walls"' "Dear Bobbie." "One Bedroom" is about the apartment he stayed in while his wife endured in rehab in Colorado. 

Key wrote some very difficult melodies on this record. Tracks like "Crash the Gates," "One Bedroom," and "MSK" grabbed my attention with his screams of "ohs," "dos," and "yous."

Overall Impression — 5
With the departure of Longineu Parsons III, the band's former drummer, fans had to expect a different Yellowcard sound. YC said they recorded "Lift a Sail" with the hopes of being able to perform like the rock bands they grew up listening to. As a hardcore Yellowcard fan, I miss their old sound. I personally thought their evolution through "Ocean Avenue" to "Paper Walls" to "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes" was brilliant. "WYTTSY" is actually my all time favorite album. "Lift a Sail," however, is a bit too different. 

There are definitely favorites on this record. "Transmission Home" makes me want to walk into a Roman coliseum, but the chorus kind of turns me off. The heavy intro riff plays throughout into the verse until the soft, synth chorus comes into play. Another song I enjoyed was "Make Me So." It's definitely one of the more funner tracks. I think the best song on the record would have to be "MSK." That catchy chorus hook "I need you" always gets me. 

It's just that the record lacks a certain pizzazz. "One Bedroom" ends with a ripping guitar solo, but has it fading out instead of letting the audience listen to Ryan Mendez's genius. California, the final track, didn't really conclude the album well for me. A soft piano is being played until a brief pause before the final minute of the song. I had my fingers crossed, hoping that there would be a huge, unexpected outro like in "Southern Air," but there wasn't. 

If you're in the same boat as me and aren't really a fan of "Lift a Sail"'s sound, I wouldn't be too worried about Yellowcard's future records. I'm sure they just needed to get this one out of their systems. YC still has a few more LPs in their new contract with Razor & Tie.

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    UG should really stop letting 6th graders with thesauruses write their reviews. "Aggrandizement?" Really? LOL YC never claimed they were trying to emulate the sound of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. There is a difference between drawing inspiration and emulation. But if you don't hear elements of "The Colour and the Shape" in "My Mountain" or any Coldplay album in "One Bedroom" you didn't listen critically enough. As for the review itself, there are innumerable run-on sentences that make shoddy points that often don't mean anything, are completely off base, or just blatantly contradict themselves. Ryan Key stays at a pitch "only moderately higher than your typical talking tone" ?? Even if this were true, which it isn't, what kind of criticism is that? You must hate Bob Dylan and the Beatles. The same goes for your criticism of "overtly simplistic musicianship." Were they trying to disguise the simplicity? Why would they? I guess it's pointless to argue with a UG reviewer that simplicity is not, by default, a bad thing, and that sometimes less is more. Obligate "alternate metal" comment HAHHAHA Good luck on your next review.
    I've got mixed feelings about this album. I really love YC, Southern Air blows my mind and yeah, I know the main story behind many of the new songs (Ryan's wife injury and them being separated a lot of time), but the musical side of Lift A Sail just doesn't seem to work for me. On one hand, they tuned the guitars down and came with some tasty heavy riffs (Transmission Home), but still it's their slowest and poppiest record to date. Even the faster tracks like "Make Me So" cannot compare with their past brilliant up-tempo songs (let's say "Sleep In The Snow", for example). I admire bands that have the courage to experiment with their sound, but for every experiment there's a risk to be a failure...and I think Lift A Sail is one of those cases. I don't get the lack of violin on the record. Sure there are songs with a distinct string arrangements, but in most of them I can't even hear Sean. Maybe he's there but somewhere in the background, like Yellowcard wouldn't even have a violinist as a member of the band. Hell, I feel like they used more piano than violin this time! I have to agree that "California" is so far their weakest closer track. "Madrid" sounds weird and annoying, I really don't dig this kind of style-change. The only song hitting me really hard is "One Bedroom". I have to give it more listenings, but so far I am disappointed with the record.
    Well, honestly, I think this album was great. Not Yellowcard's best, but it has some pretty great stuff on it. Bands trying new things is always a good thing also. Ryan Key's voice is very unique by the way, he's one of the most known voices in pop punk. This review is pretty shitty, in my opinion. Listen to it more than once and i'm sure some people would change their minds on it.