Released: Oct 7, 2014
Genre: Pop Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Razor & Tie
Number Of Tracks: 13
Albeit their transition from pop-punk to pop-rock was admirable, Yellowcard offers a compilation of unoriginal-sounding material on their new album, "Lift A Sail."
Lift A SailFeatured review by: UG Team, on october 20, 2014 3 of 6 people found this review helpful
Sound: An interesting proposition of a more rock-oriented approach was both an interesting and, to a degree, radical alteration for the members of Yellowcard to approach during the making of their ninth studio album. Bold steps into new musical territory is something the predominantly alternative rock collective have carried out previously in their career, having originally been centered towards a hardcore punk style around the origin of their formation nearly two decades ago in 1997. The main hazard involved in such transitions, however, is finding a way to maintain some degree of familiarity and identifiable elements for longtime followers to cling onto throughout a new batch of studio material; fortunately enough, Yellowcard establish this same middle ground on their latest offering, "Lift a Sail."
While the previous outlandish comparisons to the Foo Fighters and Nirvana attributed by members of the lineup prove to be just that, nothing more than blatant aggrandizements, such statements take nothing away from the actual end product found on Yellowcard's latest studio effort. Mellow orchestrations don't give too much away about the album as a whole during the brief instrumental introduction "Convocation," however it's through the propelling chord progressions and vocal harmonies to such selections as "Transmission Home" and the overtly melodic "Crash the Gates" that the recent additions to the Yellowcard songwriting chemistry become apparent. In complete honesty, there isn't much separating this batch of material from what one might expect from The All-American Rejects, particularly on the aforementioned "Crash the Gates" or "Make Me So," which gallivant that same formula of foot tapping power pop highlighted by fluent vocal harmonies, repetitive riff arrangements and a simplistic refrain. All this being said, it's still a notch above the band's most recent efforts, and still maintains a degree of "Ocean Avenue"-esque chemistry to showcase the identity of the performing artist to seep through towards the attention of established listeners.
Other numbers, for example the melancholy-laced "Fragile and Dear" and "One Bedroom," show the members of Yellowcard dropping their fist on the pace while maintaining that heavier pop rock edge of the album's previous tracks. This same consistency allows "Lift a Sail" to flow relatively well from one song to the next, which is quite something for a mainstream effort with thirteen cuts within it's track listing. Radical steps outside of this predescribed sound barrier aren't common here; "My Mountain" and "The Deepest Well" continue the trend previously set by the album's more uptempo numbers, whereas "California" and "MSK" reinforce the more reflective themes found on "Fragile and Dear" while abandoning that adrenalized angst. // 6
Lyrics: Lead vocalist Ryan Key doesn't have the most unique voice in alternative rock, but it gets the job done and occasionally makes from some strong melodic refrains throughout "Lift a Sail." His vocal range is considerable, however it mostly stays at a pitch only moderately higher than your typical talking tone. For the at home listener, that means less effort to sing along to the album's catchy choruses, however as far as Key's performance is concerned it isn't all that applaudable. Perhaps he is going for an approach that is more complimentary to the album's instrumental side, but when that, too, is largely built upon repetitive arrangements and all-too-simplistic guitar solos, allowing the underbelly of the Yellowcard songwriting chemistry to stand out through this method isn't the wisest choice. // 5
Overall Impression: Albeit their transition from pop-punk to pop-rock was admirable, Yellowcard is ultimately found offering a compilation of unoriginal-sounding material on their new album, "Lift a Sail." While with the proper marketing this album could find a regular rotation in pop radio airtime, the majority of the songs found on this effort are heavily built upon overtly simplistic musicianship and unimpressionable lead vocals. That being said, there are still enough melodic hooks to be found here that may appeal to casual listeners of the band. // 6
Lift A Sail
Russcool, on october 21, 2014 2 of 4 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 4
Lyrics: 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." // 6
Overall Impression: 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. // 5