REVIEW: YELLOWCARD – LIFT A SAIL

Lift A Sail

Reviewed by Mark Plummer

When the albums start to pile up, what direction do you take? How does a band mix it up yet keep it relevant to who they are? On Lift A Sail, each track is an expansion on previous work. The guitars on Transmission Home are reminiscent of Cut Me Mick (Paper Walls), whilst the break down certainly ascertains a similar essence and style as that in Gifts and Curses.

On the face of it Lift A Sail can appear an amalgamation of releases from Paper Walls onwards; sure there are hints of earlier styles, but they’re not the foundation of this record. That being said, it’s an entirely new type of Yellowcard album; experiments are undertaken and different ideas tried; through this, it manages to scale new peaks. Whilst the Yellowcard savant may feel slightly overwhelmed, there’s nothing to fear only musical progression to be admired. 

The opening prelude Convocation is hauntingly serene, whilst it starts off mournful, it turns, creating an envisaging picture of hope, strength and unity; pillars that this band almost appear built upon. Whilst familiarity runs deep throughout the album, the guitar seems to soar with more splendor and power; the drums beat with more anthemic tendencies; the Violin offers a richer atmosphere and helps to bulk up the band, allowing this instrument to transform them. This is a new breed of Yellowcard, no longer satisfied with their quintessential pop-punk, but offering more maturity.

This first hits home on the darker than usual, Crash The Gates. It appears more industrial, furthered in how the live drums combine with those that are programmed; then there’s the atmosphere created from the tranquil piano notes. Crash The Gates is both brimming with power as it is beauty.

One Bedroom is almost classic acoustic Yellowcard of late, with the programmed drums offering an edge that allows it to slot into this release. The truly unexpected plot twist is how it capitulates to the rock ‘n’ roll notion of Lift A Sail, transforming into something even more gargantuan. The lead guitar owns the finale, lending a piece of music and sound that is unfamiliar yet exhilarating as it fades away. This atypical take on the Yellowcard rock ballad is repeated with MSK, yet closing track California should help to pacify any purists.

Overall, familiarity may run rife, yet the most interesting tracks are those that decide to knock on the door of previously untapped areas: Fragile and Dear’s opening synth and programmed drums are certainly amok with pop, only exacerbated by the Imogen Heap-esque (Hide and Seek) vocal effects during the second verse; yet it’s juxtaposed against strong rock choruses, a beautiful violin solo and a closing effect ridden lead guitar for maximum effect.

What makes this release so tantalising then, is the expansive approach the quartet have decided to take. Assumptions could have been made that this would be a reworking of an already successful formula; instead the production and direction has been masterful, creating a truly unique Yellowcard release. This is a fine addition to an already grand collection of releases.

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