Sound — 8
Yellowcard is back! Well, it's not like they ever went anywhere. Their last record, "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes", was released only about 18 months ago. Since then, they've been touring and writing. The band's frontman, Ryan Key, said that he had no trouble writing for this album. He said that the process was so smooth, not just for him, but for his bandmates as well. "Southern Air" reminds Yellowcard of the days when they would be driving down Georgia State Highway 316 and A1A through Neptune Beach, FL with the windows down belting the words along to their favorite songs. Guest vocalists include Cassadee Pope, We Are The In Crowd's Tay Jardine, and All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth. 01. "Awakening": This song is one of my favorites off the album. It starts off with a soft, catchy chorus that turns into a deep breakdown. The verses of this song are musically genius. The guitars tear up different types of E chords and harmonize beautifully. Then, the violin strolls in to remind you why Yellowcard is so great. They're so fast and fun to listen to. I can image a whole arena of people jamming to this song at a live Yellowcard show. 02. "Surface Of The Sun": This is another one of my favorites. It's a bit of a different sound of Yellowcard. The track seems darker then most of their songs. The choruses are my favorite parts because they are so catchy and prompts that anything is possible. 03. "Always Summer": Yet another favorite. This was actually the first single released off the album. The song has an "Ocean Avenue" kind of feel to it with it's upbeat verses and catchy choruses. This track should be on everybody's summer playlists. The most memorable part of the track has to be Sean Mackin's awesome violin solo. 04. "Here I Am Alive": This single was released just a few weeks ago. To many YC fans, the song was disappointing. It was too poppy for a Yellowcard song. Personally, I agree. It is more of a pop song than a punk or rock song, but over time, the track grows on you. You'll find your self humming the chorus during some point of the day. The track features vocals from Tay Jardine and was co-written by Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. 05. "Sleep In The Snow": This song takes me to the winter. Like it's title, I can imagine myself lying in a snow angel and letting the snow flakes land softly on my cheeks. The song itself is a bit heavier. The last 58 seconds of the song put me in a true wintery feeling. It's soft and calming. 06. "A Vicious Kind": Another favorite. The track has a power-to-the-people kind of vibe to it. It makes me feel unstoppable. When I listen to it, I can picture my high school football team and I rushing out to the field before a big game. It's a different sound of Yellowcard, but a good sound. Ryan Key's voice reaches new heights in the choruses of the song. I also heard a mini violin solo in this track as well. 07. "Telescope": This track reminded me of Yellowcard's song "Sing For Me". It's also a tribute to Key's Aunt Stephanie who passed away due to cancer. She was a huge believer of the band when they first started out. The best part of the track is when Alex Gaskarth, Tay Jardine, and Cassadee Pope's vocals harmonize with Key's and they sing: "My only hope, you're my telescope". 08. "Rivertown Blues": No doubt the fastest, heaviest song of the record. Longineu Parsons III, the band's drummer, keeps a quick consistent beat that blows me away. It reminds me of Yellowcard's song "Five Becomes Four". The beats are so identical. Guitar wise, impress. This is the swiftest I've heard a Yellowcard guitarist play. Props to Ryan Mendez, the band's lead guitarist. He wrote a guitar solo for this track that stunned me. When YC plays this song live, there will be huge circle pits. 09. "Ten": This is definitely the saddest song of the record. It's also a favorite of mine. This acoustic piece is about someone was supposed to be in your life, but was taken away before you could even meet them. You could tell how personal the song is in the lyrics. Key sings about watching "Star Wars" and playing outside all day with his missing companion. There are hints of a slide guitar sprawled around the track. At one point, the song breaks down and an orchestra begins to play. In one word, beautiful. 10. "Southern Air": What a way to end a record. Great track. One of my favorites. To me, it sounds like classic Yellowcard. A catchy chorus, a superb verse, and a relatable meaning. This song brings YC back to their roots in the south. It explains how the land inspired them and sculpted them into what they are today. The outro is massive and reminds me of "Paper Walls" another album by Yellowcard.
Lyrics — 9
Ryan Key's lyrics can only be described in one word: breathtaking. In each record, they grow and form more sophisticated and clever. The one lyric that stands out to me the most on this record is: "I never got to meet you my best friend" from the track "Ten". Key overtime has grown more as a singer as well. His voice is the strongest it's ever been on this album.
Overall Impression — 8
Yellowcard has definitely taken a different turn with this one. It sounds like a combination of their records "Ocean Avenue" and "When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes", but is it one of my favorites? Yes. When I get my driver's license, I will roll my windows down and crank up the stereo and listen to this whole album again and again. Yellowcard was spot on with that idea. The only thing that disappoints me is that the new YC bassist, Josh Portman, was unable to contribute his ideas to this record. I was curious to see what he would bring to the table, but Ryan Key and Ryan Mendez composed brilliant bass parts for every song on the album anyway. You can stream the whole record on YouTube here. Go out and buy it.