The boys of Yellowcard are back at it!
Yellowcard’s newest offering, Lift a Sail, has hit the shelves and man is it an interesting direction for the group. When I say “interesting direction”, I don’t mean it in a negative manner at all. The album truly is interesting. With so much happening to the group over the past few years (Ryan’s wife becoming paralyzed and Sean being diagnosed with cancer), there is definitely a darker tint to this album, especially compared to Ocean Avenue and Southern Air.
That being said, Lift a Sail has a variety of offerings. To start, after the intro song “Convocation” it rips into probably my favorite song on the album titled “Transmission Home”. The song is easily one of the most “rock-heavy” on the album and I am completely ok with that. The riffs carry through from the opening of the song, into the verse and then finally seceded into a more regular chord progression for the chorus.
After “Transmission Home”, the next song “Crash the Gates” opens with a similar (but less memorable) riff pattern. What it lacks for in terms of memorable guitar riffs or violin parts, it makes up for with the chorus. This will definitely be one of the moshing songs for the album. After the conclusion of “Crash the Gates” comes “Make Me So”. “Make Me So” is a nice hybrid of the more rock-heavy style found in the first few songs and the punk style I’ve associated with Yellowcard over the years. The style of the song reminds me a bit of “Only One” from Ocean Avenue.
As the album progresses, the next song up is “One Bedroom”, which was the first single for the album. “One Bedroom” is a great acoustic piece with a catchy bridge and soulful chorus. I’m not sure if I would’ve chosen it for the single of the album, but from what I’ve read, their label actually made that choice and not the group themselves. It’s a great song overall, but the best part of it is easily the near 1 minute solo at the end.
The rest of the album holds a variety of softer songs like “Fragile and Dear”, “Illuminate”,”Msk”, “Lift a Sail” and “California”. Of those, “California” and “Lift a Sail” are probably my favorites. However, sandwiched in between all those is “The Deepest Well”. This song brings us back into the heavier rock sounding songs on the album. “The Deepest Well” also features Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins in an actually pretty decent guest appearance on the album. It’s almost what I wished we had in “Here I am Alive” with the guest feature from Cassadee Pope. But hey, we can’t always get what we want.
Throughout the album, Ryan Key’s voice and guitar work is definitely the central focus. This is not to say that Sean Macklin’s violin work, that Yellowcard is widely known for, is absent. You can hear his contributions in songs like “One Bedroom” and “Msk” where they are quite evident, but also in some of the rock-heavy songs like “The Deepest Well” and “Transmission Home” where his orchestral influence came in to help shape the chorus.
Overall, Lift a Sail continues a more mature direction for Yellowcard and this is extremely evident when you look back from Ocean Avenue and the rest of their albums up to now. Personally, I don’t think this album tops their last (Southern Air) but it’s a great follow up. With everything these guys have gone through in their personal lives, Lift a Sail is clearly a reflection of the struggles and joys of living life.
Lift a Sail is a solid album with some great offerings and if you were a fan of Yellowcard at any point throughout their history, definitely check it out. They’ve managed to explore new directions with their sound, all while maintaining the essence of what makes Yellowcard so fantastic.