I was rather astonished and mortified to find out that Yellowcard, one of my two favorite bands, had released a new album over a month ago without my noticing. I knew exactly what to expect before I started the first track: lyrical brilliance, sweeping instrumentals, and a frentic energy that I’ve always found infectious.
But I was looking for something else this time. There comes a time in every band’s career where they mature to the point where their sound is rock-solid and everything they put out from that point on is great. But it’s more than just how great it is, it’s the fact that they manage to make great music and make it seem completely effortless. Yellowcard actually probably reached that point two albums ago with Paper Walls (if it weren’t for Lights and Sounds I would actually say they were already there with Ocean Avenue), but I was still listening, still waiting. And everything clicked into place with this album.
It’s difficult to overstate my appreciation for Southern Air. It’s something exceptional when a band puts out an album that reminds you of why you loved them so much in the first place. The new and the old are combined so effortlessly, at times I feel like I’m listening to Ocean Avenue or One for the Kids.
The only thing I can compare my experience listening to this album is the way sports announcers react when someone has a perfect game going. The first few innings, they’re just appreciating a good baseball game. But as the innings go by and the opposing team’s hit column still reads “0,” their voices start getting quieter and quieter. They’re paid millions of dollars to talk about sports for a living, but in the face of something that masterful, they have no choice but to go from analysts to observers.
At some point you realize you should’ve known it in the first inning, when you saw how possessed the pitcher looked. You realize in retrospect that it just looked, felt like something was “different.” I should’ve realized it with this album when the first track hit me in the face with all the reasons I loved Yellowcard in the first place.
When I was about halfway through this album, the voice of my thoughts got quieter and quieter. I found myself moving from track to track with breathless anticipation. And that’s why I’m breaking my usual rule and reacting to this album right away instead of giving myself time and distance, because I already know exactly what I heard.