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.