Lift A Sail

There’s been seemingly constant heartache and upheaval in the Yellowcard camp since 2012’s Southern Air, from violinist Sean Mackin’s battle with thyroid cancer to the departure of drummer and founding member Longineu “LP” Parsons, to the tragic 2013 snowboarding accident that left vocalist/guitarist Ryan Key’s wife Alyona Alekhina paralyzed from the waist down. It’s fitting then, that the band’s latest, Lift A Sail (and first for label Razor & Tie), is like nothing the group have released before, eschewing pop-punk for overdriven alt-rock and a plethora of power ballads. Key and lead guitarist Ryan Mendez crank through rockers “Transmission Home,” “Make Me So” and the soaring “My Mountain” with low-tuned fervor, but the group take a far lighter approach with the haunting “Madrid,” the airy, guitar-free “MSK” and sparkling closer “California,” a piano ballad straight from the Jason Lancaster playbook. It’s a risk, and it doesn’t always work, but you end up glad Yellowcard found the courage to hoist their sails at all this year and still plot a course, as uncharted as it may be.

Razor & Tie

“My Mountain”