Switchfoot's evolution has been a slow, but steady one. In the past decade, they've established a
consistent sound while continuing to innovate and grow with each album. There's a noticeable transition between the raw,
garage band flavor of 1997's The Legend of Chin and their major label, post-Beautiful Letdown pop rock,
but the heart of the band hasn't changed.
After the mixed effort that was 2006's Oh! Gravity, another chapter in the Switchfoot legacy came to a close.
The band announced a parting with Sony to go independent, built their own studio, and took their time touring, writing,
and working on their seventh studio release. Needless to say, anticipation has been running quite high for Switchfoot fans
since then. Well, it's time to say Hello Hurricane. Switchfoot is back, with quite possibly one of their best records yet.
Switchfoot continues to make solid albums that have a distinctive "Switchfoot sound," but they still progress in an
ever-so-subtle way. For this project, they return to high energy rock and roll roots that sound great without being
over-produced. The lead single "Mess of Me" is raw and alive with frantic energy, with a crunchy guitar riff that recalls
The White Stripes before dropping into a wailing blues bridge. "The Sound" is a fist-pumping rock anthem with a bass-heavy,
Led Zeppelin feel. "Free" mixes in a layer of strings for dramatic effect, and "Bullet Soul" is a catchy rock tune that is
the pure Switchfoot fun we've come to know and love.
There are the rock anthems too, the kind of music that makes you feel good to be alive. Album opener "Needle and
Haystack Life" pulses and soars; "Hello Hurricane" sounds like shouting into a storm. And as always, there are calming
ballads to balance it out, worshipful moments that remind me of the songs from Jon Foreman's solo EPs. "Always" stands out
as a quiet song of surrender and praise in a world of joy and pain. "Sing It Out" begins with a moody wash of ambient
sounds, strings, and quiet vocals before building to a full band crescendo that cries, "Sing it out / I can't find the
words to sing / Come be my remedy."
For the past few albums, Switchfoot seemed almost stuck in a lyrical loop, lamenting consumerism and greed ad nauseum,
now and then dipping into politics, and always longing to live for something more. Thankfully, Hello Hurricane
doesn't take this path again, but instead turns mourning into hope. That's not to say the fallen condition is no longer
addressed-- "Mess of Me" doesn't hesitate to declare "I am my own affliction / I am my own disease... there ain't no drug
to make me well." -- but this time, the songs keep coming back to love and hope. "I got doors and windows boarded
up / All your dead end fury is not enough / You can't silence my love," as the title track says; it's the antithesis
to the darkness within, and it sounds like refreshing, defiant joy set to music.
I could highlight my favorite tracks, but really, it's near impossible. Every song has its own memorable element,
whether a standout musical turn or a lyric that suddenly jumps out after many listens. It's a solid album from start to
finish - twelve amazing songs that remind me why I fell for Switchfoot's music in the first place. Take the subtly
spiritual lyrics from their early best, the hooky song strength of The Beautiful Letdown, and the diverse musical
atmosphere of Nothing is Sound, mix them up with a little bit of something new, and you might have
This is a must-have for long-time Switchfoot fans (even those jaded by the mainstream years), a great album for rock
lovers that want something uplifting, fun, and deep, and a great introduction for someone who hasn't really listened to
Switchfoot yet. A strong release from start to finish, Hello Hurricane is worth returning to again and again.
- Review date: 11/8/09, written by Jen Rose of Jesusfreakhideout.com
It's been nearly three years since San Diego rock band Switchfoot have released a brand new studio album. Since
the release of the hit-n-miss Oh! Gravity, the guys have been set free from their Columbia Records partnership
and have built their own studio with which to record their latest venture, the 12-song effort, Hello Hurricane.
With a return to indie status (and now a new partnership with Atlantic Records), Switchfoot gets back to their roots in the process, but not without giving their signature
sound a fresh treatment. Gone are the hooky radio friendly tracks that were fashioned for releases like The Beautiful Letdown
and Nothing Is Sound, as the band stays true to themselves in making songs that sound good and say something of
substance (Remember their more subtle debut The Legend Of Chin?). In the process, the sound is kept clean but raw and the guitars
cranked to a delicious crunch for tracks like "Mess Of Me," "The Sound," and "Bullet Soul." Those who have been especially
attracted to the spiritual elements of frontman Jon Foreman's solo ventures will find a lot to love about songs like "Free," which
begs our Savior for freedom from ourselves, and the piano-driven "Always," which serves as a genuine worship song. And while
Hello Hurricane may not be the band's best project in their 12 year catalog of music, it's easily a highlight
of their already impressive career. Longtime faithful followers of the band since before their mainstream success
will especially want to grab this one.
- John DiBiase