ALBUM REVIEW – “Lift A Sail” by Yellowcard

A lot of highly anticipated records are finally landing over the next few months. Many of these records, like the new albums from Slipknot and New Found Glory, need no explanation at all. When Yellowcard dropped Ocean Avenue over a decade ago (wow) it caused a veritable explosion of success for the Jacksonville quintet, and they were sent off on the road to rock and roll stardom. Over the years the band’s mainstream success has steadily declined, despite consistently churning out some rather spectacular and artistically independent material. YC somehow slipped out of the forefront of the pop punk community. Long term fans held on, keeping up with every release and praying for another breakout, but the truth remained, Yellowcard was losing relevancy, and the tension started building. When would Yellowcard become stars again?

Apparently Yellowcard decided the best solution to this issue was to abandon the genre entirely, because Yellowcard’s new direction is a shocking change. Electronic elements take center stage, along with piles of vocal layering that ironically drain the life out of the music. There are tasteful smatterings here and there, but otherwise there is so much going on that it feels constrictive instead of liberating. For the first few songs on the record, it’s actually entirely possible to forget about the existence of YC’s violin player, probably because he doesn’t play a single note.

The lyrics are awkward and delivered with next to none of the spirit Ryan Key used to cascade on listeners. The guitar solos, one of the truly unique parts of the YC sound (the violin parts are cool, but let’s be honest, the guitar solo in “Rivertown Blues” left everyone speechless) seem uninspired. Everything just blends together into a no-brain mush that sounds like a band who wants to call it a day. The once genre bending giants have doomed themselves into mediocrity because it’s just so hard to see all the envelopes the band claimed to have wanted to push with Sail. It rocks awkwardly between a straight up pop rock record and some empty ghosts of attempts at sounding like older material.

     Lift A Sail can be called a highly philosophical album in that it does raise some serious questions. Is “One Bedroom” a song Fun. tossed in the trash? Why is Nate Young, an incredible drummer who could have taken Yellowcard in a truly amazing direction, so constrained on this album? Why on Earth did Yellowcard leave Hopeless Records for Razor and Tie? What is Matty Mullins doing here? Where is the token acoustic song about someone who passed away?

Mind you that Lift A Sail is, out of the context of it being a Yellowcard album, not a bad record. This is important, because not all of a band’s audience will love every record they put out, and sometimes “success” and “credibility” can mean two very different things depending on what side of a mic you stand on. Sail is simple, easy to enjoy and doesn’t really ruffle any feathers, but if that’s all anyone wants out of an album, that is, needless to say, a shame. There are even some songs, the gnarly “Crash the Gates” and “Make Me So”, that show some honest to goodness progression for the band, even tunes like “My Mountain” actually would be an ok alternative rock tune if it were written by literally any other band. Overall, there are so many contrived efforts made that Sail sounds both over worked and half hearted at the same time.

Truth be told, and contrary to what some may say, the Yellowcard album we all actually need is one that is an incredible listen through and through, something that honestly can’t be said about any of YC’s releases, yet. Lately there has been a long stream of spunky, original pop-punk bands taking a downturn into wannabe over produced pop glamour. Paramore did it, even A Day To Remember of all bands had a bunch of lame throwaway soft tracks on Common Courtesy. Please Yellowcard, the world needs you to not be the next Fall Out Boy.

 

4/10

Max Robison

 

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One Comment on “ALBUM REVIEW – “Lift A Sail” by Yellowcard”

  1. JessHanes October 14, 2014 at 6:04 am #

    Loving the new album so much personally! Beyond stoked they’re back together. Check out the lyric vid for “One Bedroom” if you haven’t already: http://smarturl.it/YellowcardVEVO

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