The songs are coming thick and heavy from quintet Yellowcard following their return from hiatus in 2010. It was only last year when they marked their return with When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes which garnered largely positive reviews throughout the punk scene. Southern Air is the eighth studio album from the American rock band famed for hits such as ‘Ocean Avenue’ and ‘Only One’. They determinedly compose their own music, write their own lyrics and are renowned for band member Sean Mackin’s elaborate violin accompaniments.
The album aptly kicks off with ‘Awakening’, a song about letting go of the past and starting over. Lead singer Ryan Key even alludes to his struggle to find inspiration with the lyrics ‘I can’t believe that I still care enough to write’ but the overall vibe is positive and energised. The band’s earlier, heavier sound features in rousing anthem ‘The Surface of the Sun’ with lashes of cutting guitar riffs and distortion. It is easy to recognise why Keys may have had to surgery on his vocal chords, he holds nothing back, singing with his heart on his sleeve.
‘Always Summer’, the first single released from this album, is a slightly more generic meditation on summer and love but it is electrified by a trademark violin solo in the latter stages. Meanwhile, ‘Here I Am Alive’, co-written by Keys and former Fall Out Boy frontman Patrick Stump, has the potential to be a hymn of the Yellowcard generation. ‘You don’t grow up you just grow old’ is one of the most notable gems from the song. It acts as a vaguely epistolary address to a younger self and the result is an endearing tribute to endurance, survival and self-reliance.
One of the more mellow tracks is ‘Ten’, with its melancholy tone and acoustic backing it exudes ideas of childhood innocence, simplicity of feeling, hopes, dreams and identity. Fans have speculated over whether the title and content alludes to the reported miscarriage suffered by Keys in 2002. The band have not confirmed or denied this rumour. The album draws to a close with the title song ‘Southern Air’, which pays homage to the bands base of Southern California (‘this will always be home’).
Yellowcard continue to spawn their own brand of infectious and endearing pop punk, perhaps recycling a few of the old riffs but still delighting with lacings of violin and mellow beauty. This album is a mature compilation and bound to delight the Yellowcard faithful while drawing in some new fans along the way.
By Katrina Northern