Reviewed by Mark Plummer
New material was appearing from Yellowcard a little over a year after the release of their comeback album, an incredibly short time for a band to tour the world, record three full length releases and then tour some more before putting out this release. Southern Air is a brand new album in every respect, whilst it may echo the music heard in albums past, from Ocean Avenue through to Paper Walls, this is a release that has still managed to take everything up a notch.
Awakening is the opener that you could hope for. It exuberates pace and takes a simple yet elegant lyrical journey before handing over to Surface of the Sun, a song that roots itself in the opening style and darkness that was Ocean Avenue. Already this is an album that, whilst gliding across tracks from the last few studio albums, has taken inspiration and turned it into something altogether more enjoyable.
The poignant Here I Am Alive is a shout out to the kid that everyone used to be, a hindsight song for what we could go back and tell ourselves. It introduces an element that wouldn’t necessarily be attributed to Yellowcard in the synth that rapidly flows through the chorus. It’s not easily recognizable, yet take it away and there’s the sense that something is missing. This is the texture that so many bands overlook and fail to achieve when recording and writing an album that goes the distance and stays interesting. The female vocals work really well at adding more to the mix, it’s only three tracks in but it’s what keeps the motion of the album going.
Rivertown Blues is a blisteringly fast track that features double pedal action from Longineu Parsons behind the kit and plenty of quick palm-mute on the guitars, if you will it’s Life of a Salesmenon acid, with a lovely little lick of a guitar solo to finish off. Just when it seems like Yellowcard haven’t produced a trademark chilled down track, Ten is there to slows things down but with a lovely country twang straight out of Nashville. The reverb on the clean guitar along with the use of a slide just sums this track up, it’s wonderfully inventive and the acoustic guitars keep everything mellow and in touch with the licks laid down over the chorus. It’s also worth noting that the violin that sets them apart from everyone else has never felt more appropriate than it does on Ten, with its somber lyrical theme of the love and loss of what could have been.
The individuals behind the instruments have all showcased creativity throughout the songwriting process that has resulted in Southern Air, however Longinue Parsons has really let the drums grow into something more massive, with creative rolls and fills that should be the envy of every drummer. What’s more, it sounds so effortless and is executed to a fine line.
It’s not a case of Yellowcard having written one of, if not arguably their best album to date, it’s the way in how it’s been achieved. This is a group of five from Florida who have had struggles, taken a hiatus and unlike many, came back and delivered even more and are still giving it their all. They are the perfect example of a band that has gone from strength to strength. You wouldn’t know they’d had two years off and you know that they’ll be a part of your life for many years to come.
5 out of 5