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Review: Yellowcard offers pop music fans a breath of fresh ‘Southern Air’

“I want this to be my awakening” sings lead vocalist Ryan Key on Yellowcard’s latest album “Southern Air.”

The album’s first track “Awakening” takes me back to the days of “Ocean Avenue,” pre-Yellowcard’s 2008-2010 hiatus. While it seems most bands disappear completely after taking a break, or return weaker than before, Yellowcard is an exception. This is proved by its 2011 release, “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” and the even stronger “Southern Air.”

The album, released Tuesday, incorporates two things Yellowcard does best: strong lyrics and a powerful mix of instruments including a violin, which is a constantly refreshing addition to Yellowcard’s music.

“Southern Air” has elements that remind me of summer in many of its tracks, such as the band’s standard catchy hooks and upbeat rhythm. The album is a perfect selection for August as summer winds down, because it allows you to maybe hang on to the joy and energy of the season for just a bit longer.

“Always Summer” is a sweet, relatable song about first love, with the hook, “I left home but there’s one thing that I still know / It’s always summer in my heart and in my soul,” that had me singing along after one listen.

“Here I Am Alive,” which features Tay Jardine of We Are The In Crowd and was co-written by Patrick Stump, might tell Yellowcard’s story best. Key sings, “This is supposed to be a bad luck town / I jumped, I fell, I hit the ground / But here I am alive,” perhaps referring to the band members’ perseverance.

The band formed in 1997 and recorded three studio albums before it gained widespread attention with fourth studio album “Ocean Avenue,” which released in 2003.

The sixth track on the 10-track album, “Vicious Kind” was the biggest miss, with weaker lyrics such as “I want you to know I’m / Not sorry at all / You can’t buy forgiveness / Or blame me for the fall.” However, even though the lyrics did not strike me as amazing, the song still featured strong instrumentals, which Yellowcard excels at on just about every track in its library.

Other songs from the album, notably the beautifully written “Ten,” which is the album’s slowest and most emotional track, “Rivertown Blues” and title track “Southern Air” are some of the album’s best.

Yellowcard, in my opinion, is a largely underrated band. While the band has received radio attention in the past, its talent outweighs its attention. The Florida-native group features impressive writing with real content, unlike many of the sugary pop bands dominating the charts and airwaves.

If catchy pop music with substance and staying power interests you, “Southern Air” is definitely worth a listen. And after one listen, there’s even a good chance you’ll be pressing repeat to take it all in again.

Grade: B+


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