Let’s be real—it’s rare when a band gets a true “second wind.” That’s why Southern Air, the latest release by pop/punk band Yellowcard, is so worth exploring and listening to.
Many bands go on an “indefinite hiatus” and never come back. Many other bands come back from their hiatus, produce a presentable “comeback” record, and then just coast the rest of the way. But the word “hiatus” usually signifies a band has passed their peak; rarely does a band come back from that season as strong or stronger than before.
Yellowcard has definitely defied the odds on that one. Not only was last year’s comeback album When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes a solid return effort, but with Southern Air the band has built on that momentum, presenting what may prove to be their finest work to date.
The key ingredient on this album is not a change in direction, but rather a return to the original fire and passion that first defined the band. The opening track “Awakening”, an anthem declaring a new beginning at the end of relationship, sets the musical pace for the rest of the album, while the next track “Surface of the Sun” seems to be a direct statement of the band’s intentions: “Across a decade we flew high and we fell low / And getting up when we’re dragged down is all we’ve known / We were born to be the ones / To show the faithless what we’ve done…And there’s a fire inside / It burns like the surface of the sun.” Indeed, this positive theme of prevailing over adversity continues to make appearances throughout the album’s ten tracks, including “Here I Am Alive”: “They say you don’t grow up, you just grow old / It’s safe to say I haven’t done both / I’ve made mistakes, I know, I know / But here I am alive.” Even on one of the album’s darker tunes, “A Vicious Kind,” frontman Ryan Key expresses a fierce determination: “You can turn me down / And try to cut me off / But you will not stop me singing.”
Clocking in at just around 40 minutes, Southern Air is short by the clock, but long on energy—and the common thread for the tracklist is uncluttered, perfectly executed pop/punk, accentuated by poignant lyricism and the band’s signature violin courtesy of Sean Mackin. Like I said, there’s no earth-shattering shift in direction here, but there is a true second wind—the same fire of Yellowcard’s early work, but with more maturity behind it. While this is a genre typically designated for the young, it’s apparent that Yellowcard is getting better with age. Southern Air one of the must-listen pop/punk records of the year.
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