Yellowcard - Southern Air | Album Review | By Volume

Have you ever thought how young we’d be if we never ever went to school? A Sunny Day In Glasgow - Bye Bye Big Ocean (The End)


Southern Air

It’s always summer in my heart and in my soul (ad infinitum)

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Author: on August 10, 2012
August 14, 2012

I’d like for a second to consider Yellowcard’s near-unique position in the pop-punk arena, because once Southern Air begins, the chances are we’ll be far too caught up in soaring choruses and the likes. How is it that a band which released a seminal teen-angst album in 2003 can find themselves – nine years and four albums later – in exactly the same summer-love groove, with exactly the same amount of credibility and absolutely no sign of drifting into obscurity? Blink-182’s reunion looks frankly laughable in the shadow of that sort of longevity. It’s high time we started to consider this California quartet as the voice of a hopelessly romantic generation. I don’t know who we gave it to before now – Motion City Soundtrack are too quirky to qualify, and Jimmy Eat World exist in a pretty distinct corner of the stadium – but Southern Air is just as good as Ocean Avenue and every other post-2003 Yellowcard album, every one of them now a benchmark in its own right.

After just four chords you can summon your faith in pop-rock again. That sounds ridiculous, but I think this is perhaps the most unusual thing about Yellowcard – even if you didn’t know Southern Air was approaching, the chances are that the band name will push the play button and the tone of the very first verse will drag up the same emotive listening bubble that songs like “Back Home” crafted for the first time. Once you’re inside that world, and given the band’s consistency, what Yellowcard do with your attention is always going to be a question of degrees. But, again, the band feel far from unchanged; if When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes was a summation of the really naive and hopeful lost-youth elements of their discography, Southern Air certainly feels less restless and less rafter-reaching. The band sound fuller, constructing walls of sound like “Ocean Avenue”‘s chorus as a matter of course rather than the rare event; the songs don’t get locked into a hurry, either, like some of the band’s work.

Not, you understand, that there is a lack of urgency, spirit, optimism, choruses, universal but sincere lines about forgetting and remembering, love, lovely violin parts, crashing crescendos, tremendous drumming, or references to how sunny it (usually) is. All these Yellowcard staples stand up and jump around, more energetically than Say Yes and with more poise (maturity?) than Ocean Avenue. It’s first-person, power chords, hands-in-the-sky choruses (almost) all the way from “Awakening”’s rev-it-up intro to “Southern Air”’s final climax. “Here I Am, Alive” is the stuttering pop-rock song All Time Low have been trying to write for two albums now, and “Rivertown Blues” is blistering, a contender for those best-of playlists that a band like Yellowcard demand. Only “Ten” drops the whole major key lift for a tender track which is dragged the right side of the cheesy-beautiful line by its subject matter.

Yellowcard seem to exist within a vacuum. There are subtle differences between Southern Air and their other albums – “Here I Am, Alive”’s late-on female backing vocals would sound incredibly out of place anywhere close to the breathlessness of “Breathing”, as might the falsetto of “A Vicious Kind”’s chorus – but aside from the less frantic pace and a few quirks here and there, Yellowcard sound every bit as vigorous and passionate and beautifully simple as they have for the best part of a decade now. I don’t know why. I don’t much care. It’s August. It’s pop-punk. Some things don’t change; long may this band be one of them.

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