BY ANASTASIA MONTAVON
On Oct. 7, the “pop-punk” band Yellowcard, famous for their hit single “Ocean Avenue,” released their 9th studio album, “Lift a Sail.” This is the band’s first album without drummer Longineu W. “LP” Parsons III, who left the band in March to pursue other musical interests. For this album, the band signed with the label Razor & Tie instead of resigning with Hopeless Records. So far, three singles have been released from this album: “One Bedroom,” “Make Me So” and “Crash the Gates.”
This album is unlike any of Yellowcard’s previous albums. There aren’t any fast songs, but that doesn’t mean the album lacks energy. Sean Macklin’s talent on violin is much more prominent, taking the lead in the opening song “Convocation” as well as in the song “MSK.” The lyrics are also a lot more emotional than previous albums, as singer/songwriter Ryan Key seems to pour his heart out into these songs. Whether the songs are about his wife (“One Bedroom” and “Madrid”) or about the death of his grandfather (“My Mountain”), one thing this album doesn’t lack is emotion.
“Transmission Home,” one of the standouts on the album, features Nate Young’s crashing drums and some strong guitar, which really helps the album take off. This song sets the tone for the album and begins to establish the themes of the album: love and human resilience.
Last year, Key’s wife was paralyzed from the waist down in a snowboarding accident, and that incident has clear influence on every song from the beginning. Key pours his love into every song, including the single “One Bedroom,” a touching love song that gradually builds into an intense guitar solo. While this single isn’t as catchy as past singles and doesn’t really stand out from the album enough, it still manages to be moving in its own way.
The band created this album with the intent of creating a “proper rock album,” and they succeeded. Songs like “The Deepest Well,” which features vocals from Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins, “Illuminate,” and “Crash the Gates” especially stand out as having more rock elements. Other songs, like “Lift a Sail,” bare reminders to the Yellowcard sound that we are used to. While “Lift a Sail” has the same overall feel as the rest of the songs on the album, the lyrics are uplifting, and similar to some of their previous songs on older albums. However, this isn’t a bad thing.
Ultimately, the album is Key’s story of the emotional journey he took after his wife’s accident. It’s not the Yellowcard the world is used to, but they pull it off. Unlike Lights and Sounds, an album released by the band in 2006 that also tried to lean more on the rock side, “Lift a Sail” stays strong from start to finish. However, this album does have some flaws. A few songs including “Fragile and Dear” are good, but seem to go on too long. And while Macklin’s presence is definitely there, the violin often seems gentler and more a part of the background.
This album is stronger lyrically and emotionally than previous albums. While it’s doubtful these songs will start mosh pits as easily as other albums, “Lift a Sail” is almost relaxing, which can be a great aid while studying.