Stephanie Richards ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Ever listen to an album and it takes you a minute into the second song to realize that it’s actually your favorite band? Listening to Yellowcard’s Lift a Sail, released in October, was like that. Their sound has definitely taken on a new flavor—but it’s not a bad thing.
Opening up with the solemn “Convocation” might’ve raised some questions—will there be more solely instrumental tracks? will all the songs be so sombre?—but jumping right into “Transmission Home” reassures us that yes, it’s Yellowcard, and they will be showing off all they have to offer, complete with distorted guitars and empowering beats.
“Crash the Gates” has much the same pacing and feel as the previous song, but the tempo starts picking up in “Make Me So.” Here, we see a peppering of synthesizers and underlying piano melodies that bolster Ryan Key’s vocals.
Listeners will be familiar with the first featured single “One Bedroom,” that slows it down again. Those who hope for a comeback of Yellowcard’s pop-punk energy of the early 2000s may be disappointed, but the track fades out with a pretty rockin’ guitar solo from Ryan Mendez.
“Fragile and Dear” opens up with an electronic beat that gives way to the band’s guitars and drums in the chorus. Key’s lyrics are reminiscent of the slower tracks in When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes, namely “Hang You Up,” and “Sing For Me;” poignant, and on point.
The ballad “Madrid” takes the album in a new direction, showcasing Key’s lyrics supported by sparse guitar chords and melancholy violin. The only negative aspect of this beautiful song is its length; the last chord fades after two short minutes, when there is easily more of this story to be heard.
The eponymous track is another slow song amidst an album of slow songs—not to say lacking in energy in any sense. I can already hear the anthemic chant of “I am ready now” echoing after a live performance the same way Coldplay fans keep the “Oh-oh-oh-ay-oh-oh” going a good two extra minutes after the band stops playing “Viva la Vida.”
Sean Mackin’s violin riff reminds us of “Believe” in “MSK,” and the swelling melody makes us feel equally likely to break into the widest grin ever, or burst into tears (in a good way). “California” wraps up the album with sentiments of longing and comfort.
All in all, the thirteen-track album Lift a Sail tones things down a notch as Yellowcard explores a new sound: more alternative rock than pop-punk. Key’s lyrics are notably more introspective and less teenage-angst-y. The band’s musical integrity has not been compromised the way some have in giving into the pressure of producing pop music (see: Paramore), but it’s definitely maturing.