Switchfoot truly is a force to be reckoned with. Album after album they give listeners quality music but with their latest release, Fading West, they're stirring up the pot. Many who think they know the boys from San Diego will be surprised - pleasantly surprised. Regardless, this ain't the Switchfoot you've heard before.
The album opens with the already introduced, via the Fading West EP, "Love Alone Is Worth the Fight." Its anthemic sound truly establishes a trend for many of the songs found in this release. "Who We Are," also an EP track, follows this up and really keeps the momentum going as it leads into "When We Come Alive." It's a song of perseverance and courage and really introduces a new feel to Switchfoot with creative percussion and a pinch of appropriate auto-tune. Continuing with venturing into the unknown is the aggressive "Say It Like You Mean It." Foreman's call for transparency, as he proclaims "I'm still looking for a correlation between what to say and how you roll," has a punch as he follows it up with, "spit it out, like you mean it!"
Bringing a slightly slower sound is the melancholy "The World You Want." Lyrically, it is an honest look at brokenness and healing. It truly tugs on the heartstrings as it also features the background vocals of the Kuyasa Kids, a choir made up of children who have lost their families due to HIV. As Foreman sings, "What you say is your religion, how you say it's your religion. Who you love is your religion, how you love is your religion," it asks a convicting question to the listener, "Does what I believe, shape what I do?"
Returning to a slightly, lighter feeling is the smooth "Slipping Away." It really feels like a look into the at-home lives of the band as they ponder why they do what they do. This same feeling of "home" is echoed in "Saltwater Heart," as the band reminisces about their love for the ocean, literally and metaphorically. Contrasting with the bright sounds is the dark "BA55," featuring a sick bass line and simple lyrics of being renewed. This track was featured on the EP as well, however its placement within the full-length album feels more strategic and has a lot more impact.
"Let It Out" and "All or Nothing At All" showcase newer sounds for the band as they have elements of heavy synth and more pop driven melodies. Some listeners may be put off by this sound, but after a few listens it may leave folks wanting a little bit more. For the wary loyalist, do not fear; you may be pleasantly surprised.
Concluding the album is the beautiful "Back to the Beginning Again." It really feels like a song paying homage to the feeling of returning to the center and source of fulfillment. It's a sweet melody with wonderfully arranged music and is a great way to fade the album out. By the end of the track, you feel like you just wrapped up a world tour with the guys; it's personable and intimate.
While Fading West isn't the album of albums for Switchfoot, it is most definitely a solid record. Plus, in conjunction with the Fading West film, it is quite possibly one the more intimate offerings from the beloved band. The only negative about the album is the lack of slower songs that many have come to know and love. Regardless, Fading West features some of the best songs the band has ever put out. So at the end of the day, many folks will gladly find themselves fading west with a smile.- Preview Review date: 11/15/13, Review date: 1/12/14 written by Ryan Barbee of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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