Critical Voices: Switchfoot, Fading West

January 16, 2014

It’s understandable if you don’t remember Switchfoot. After all, it has been ten years since they released that song, “Dare you to moooove!”

In their newest release, Fading West, Switchfoot moves into a more mainstream sound while exploring the deeper themes of identity they dwelled on since releasing their last album.

The LP opens with “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” in which lead singer Jon Foreman expresses his intention to get “back to the basics.” I presume these “basics” are metaphorical rather than musical, because the band’s style is unrecognizable from the start. Rather than their standard soft-rock sound, Switchfoot opts for a pop feel, throwing in metallic “ooh-ee-oohs” to carry the melody.

The track list continues with “Who We Are” and “When We Come Alive,” both of which have a catchy—yet terribly unoriginal—sound. The lyrics in the song  seem like something we’ve heard before: “We light the sky/ When we ignite.” It’s one firework away from being a Katy Perry song.

Despite the shaky start, the album redeems itself with “Say It Like You Mean It,” a rougher, guitar-heavy song in the middle of the record. The anger in the lyrics and gritty sound of the vocals work well together, and remind us that when Switchfoot breaks from their indicative formulaic pop rock sound, they can be great.

Unfortunately, this track is followed by the rather melodramatic “The World You Want,” which opens with the faint sounds of a playground. Just as you think “Kids” by MGMT is starting, Switchfoot dives suddenly into an intense, piano-heavy ballad. “Every day you’re alive/ You change the world,” Foreman repeats, as the music fades back to the playground.

This heavy-handed symbolism stays strong through the final track, entitled “Back to the Beginning Again.” With this song—like most of the album—the problem is not the sound, but the lack of depth and originality.

Ultimately, while Fading West may be nice to listen to, it doesn’t offer much in terms of emotional resonance. “I wanted something with meaning,” Foreman sings in the closing lines of “Who We Are.” Yeah, me too.


Voice’s Choices: “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight,” “Say It Like You Mean It”


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