Album Review: Yellowcard - Lift a Sail (2014 LP)

Yellowcard have triumphed with their recent release of Lift a Sail. It is an album of personal journey that tells a story of their own; a recollection of memories that have shaped who they are today and a milestone that inevitably shows off their achievements as a band.

From start to finish, it endeavours beautiful intricacies that will touch your heart, with sentimental value that will be appreciated for many years to come. Every track has a purpose and upholds integrity and humbleness. It not only displays the band’s affection for releasing meaningful music, but it shapes every movement of hope and inspiration that has come from their hardships and challenges they have come across. A memoriam of nostalgia, a delivery of strength.

With respect to their last release of Southern Air, it’s not the kind of album that will seek out symphonies of summer tunes and beachy weather. Then again, I wouldn’t say that it was as poignant and sombre as their Lights and Sounds release either. It is an in-between that will hopefully be appreciated by many fans, new and old.

“Convocation” illustrates Sean Mackin’s violin mastery. It is an eloquent opener that awaits its blossoming odyssey. It’s an introduction that doesn’t give much away, creating an enveloping mystery of what lies ahead in the record. Following on, the record transitions smoothly and genuinely with their second track “Transmission Home.” The lead-up to the drum works by Nate Young (of Anberlin) provides exuberant rhythm and execution, with a mind-blowing guitar riff which continuously progresses throughout the track. It’s an electrifying track that shimmers the talent of the band which then follows on in “Crash The Gates.”

The lyrics, 'Something here it never looks right / We’ve been fighting on the front lines for so long' is a problematic turning point, which goes to show the beginning of a battle that’s hard to fight; an ongoing war that rages through the fire. “Make Me So” encompasses frustration of being stuck and not moving forward. The catchiness of the chorus cannot be mistaken by the lyrics that reveal the continuous hardship of overcoming the challenge of reaching out to someone that constantly pushes you away.

Thankfully, the sweet serenity basks in “One Bedroom” which is a set contrast from the previous track. It sets the scene with an acoustic style that doesn’t heavily involve too much instrumental work, highlighting Ryan Key’s gentle repertoire of vocals. It’s a strikingly soft-spoken love song that will make it a cherishable treat for the hopeless romantics out there that are having trouble deciding what song they want to dance to in their own wedding.

Changing the pace of the record and going deeper to the journey of what Yellowcard has brought upon, “Fragile and Dear” graciously harmonises Sean’s violin work in his solo part of the track, complementary of that with an undertone coming from all aspects of rhythm guitars and drum production. The lyrics are also quite notable as they are both visionary and refined, embarking again on Ryan Key’s work as the writer of the band, showing his expertise on telling stories that live within his heart.

“Illuminate” is an adrenalin-pumping number, with gloriously amplified music that is both enhanced with Nate’s passionate drumming rhythm and guitar work from both Ryan Key and Ryan Mendez. The lyrics' shape form what the band have been through in their musical journey together. It’s a reminder of who they are now, as opposed to the people they were back then, with so many obstacles faced but something they can continually learn from in the near future. With one of the most meaningful tracks off the record, “Lift a Sail” goes straight to the point and has a strong connection in regards to Ryan Key’s story of how he dealt with his wife being in hospital.

It recalls an invaluable lesson of hope that he is ready for the pain and adversity life has to offer because from this experience, it has made him more courageous than he ever was before. With the lyrics, 'If a cold wind starts to rise / I am ready now, I am ready now', it provides an image of resilience and strength; a warrior that is able to seek out triumph in his own battle no matter how much pain it causes him.

Uniquely arranged by both Sean Mackin and Nate Young, “MSK” is a favourable number, which is notable for its violin features and minimalistic approach. It graces the record with such a unique piece of music that envelopes so perfectly with the lyrics as well. It’s descriptive of Ryan Key’s relationship with his wife and their struggle in time difference as she resides and lives in Russia. A longing for presence and constant reassurance that soon they will reunite and continue their everlasting love for one another, no matter the distance that is hurting them.

With everything they have gone through as a band, Yellowcard have released something that speaks of great honesty which cannot be compared to their last records. They’ve set sail through the heaviest storms unimaginable but have made it in their own terms by gaining so much strength within themselves to have made it this far into their lives. Not only is Lift a Sail a personal journey from the band but it is also an album that will ensure that the capacity of life’s sufferings should not get the best of you and that you are the captain of your own ship; don’t let yourself sink.

Review Score: 10 out of 10

Lift a Sail is out now.