Review : Switchfoot - The Beautiful Letdown
JesusfreakhideoutSwitchfoot has been a force in the Christian music industry ever since their debut The Legend of Chin in 1997. With many acts dumbing down different secular genres, they created their own with much success. Their originality paid off, with mainstream Columbia Records calling to co-release the band's fourth studio album along with longtime partner Sparrow Records. It could have been their four-song addition to the Mandy Moore film A Walk To Remember or it might be that they really are just that good. Now with The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot is on pace to break down a barrier that always seems to build back up while assembling a partition around themselves as the only artist to do whatever it is that they do so well.
Leading off are two songs where Switchfoot shows the progression they’ve been making in their musical craftiness. “Meant to Live” comes in as a radio rock powerhouse that should be played and overplayed like any good rock station does while “This Is Your Life” molds techno beats and rock greatness to create the greatest song of the album presenting what new addition Jerome Fontamillas (keys/ guitar), formerly of Mortal fame, has to offer.
Now comes the quirky Switchfoot we all know and love. “More Than Fine” and “Gone” bring happy go lucky hits that the Beach Boys wish they were making back then, where doo whopping wonderment ensues. ”Ammunition” and “Adding to the Noise” add mid-tempo rockers with lyrics of true greatness and meaningful self exploration into the soul. “Redemption” takes a bit of both; rock journeyment and cheerful liveliness while “Dare You to Move” is a slight remake of a song on their junior release Learning to Breathe. “The Beautiful Letdown,” “24,” and “On Fire” slows things down beautifully only adding to the fact that lead singer Jon Foreman is the ballad prince of song....full text
SputnikmusicJust like Jon Foreman pleads for you to realise on 'This Is Your Life', yesterday is a promise that you've broken; a lot has changed since I first began writing about music. In five years which included a stuttering university career and nine months scrambling through foreign nightlife, god died, my best shoes got scuffed, and the beauty I used to see in the simplest things retreated to increasingly complex strongholds. I'm pretty sure this sort of thing isn't unique, more an inevitable detail of seeing more things and thinking more thoughts as you grow older, but wires got crossed somewhere along the road and every now and then something drags me back. More often than not, that something is The Beautiful Letdown.
Because there's something about the way Foreman and his band Switchfoot present the things I've forgotten or stopped believing and make me realise the parts of those feelings that still hold true, even since the wires got crossed, and there's something about the music they set it to here more than anywhere else. Everyone's heard the ode-to-living 'Dare You To Move', but it's the overtly Christian cuts that scare me the most, because damn, am I an atheist. But on a song like 'Redemption', Foreman's vocals are filled with such conviction, I almost find myself wanting to be saved. 'Gone' asks if we know what life is outside of our convenient lexis cages, which is a sentiment I've been trying to get to the bottom of for years. And so on.
And that beauty in simplicity thing that I mentioned earlier, that's the reason The Beautiful Letdown is capable of becoming a staple in any pop-lover's music library. While Switchfoot aren't a cliché in any meaningful sense, you can definitely see why they might attract the label, since the piano in 'On Fire' is so downright gorgeous that it's bound to make certain people feel guilty, and since Switchfoot are so unequivocal and steadfast in their ideals and their idealism. But they're polite, too, which makes The Beautiful Letdown burn slow and inoffensive until you realise that it's uncrossed a few of the wires.
I mean, it's a temporary jolt, because few could go on believing everything Foreman asserts over these eleven soaring pop tracks, and everybody needs something more abrasive than The Beautiful Letdown's pristine guitars and obvious-as-hell lyrics in their lives, but equally, it helps sometimes to listen to a record which asks you to ponder no more (indeed, no less) than: 'This is your life; are you who you want to be?' If you're in the need of escaping to a world of innocent and arguably naive themes, it works absolutely perfectly. The Beautiful Letdown acts as an anchor, which might be the anti-thesis of most life-altering albums, but that's sort of the whole point....full text
MusicomhFebruary 2003 feels like a long, long time ago. I was in a different decade of my life; in a different full-time job; had never edited musicOMH.com; and had never worried that I might get bombed by terrorists (or shot by police) on the London underground.
I bet that as they geared up for the release of their fourth album in February 2003, Californian surfers Switchfoot had no inkling that it would spend months near the top of the US charts, sell millions and launch them into the big time. Even if they did, they could never have guessed that said album would only be released in the UK two and a half years later...
Still, here we are and rarely has the clich� 'better late than never' been more apt than when applied to the release of The Beautiful Letdown on this green and pleasant land. For this is an album that demands to be heard, that cries quality from every one of its 11 tracks and that will wear out the repeat button on your CD player.
The Beautiful Letdown is that most endangered of species among modern albums - a multi-dimensional beast. Where wondrous opener Meant To Live rocks mightily, the subsequent This Is Your Life holds back with an electronic intro and flecks of acoustic guitar. Where More Than Fine and Redemption are luscious examples of jaunty, summery, uplifting pop, Ammunition, Gone and Adding To The Noise are aggressive, edgy yet equally playful. And where Dare You To Move and the title track are anthemic and majestic, On Fire and Twenty-Four are gentle, reflective and, quite simply, beautiful.
If the musical styles on offer are refreshingly diverse then they are united by two key elements, namely soaring, intensely memorable choruses and lyrics at odds with the nonsense that is spouted by too many so-called 'artists'.
Instead, Switchfoot goad the listener and themselves into making more of every minute ("We were meant to live for so much more"; "This is your life, are you who want to be?"; "I dare you to move like today never happened"); make bold statements on the world ("Look what a mess we've made, we've got ourselves to blame"; "Do we know what life is outside of our convenient Lexus cages?"); and express their personal, spiritual perspective ("I've got my hands in redemption's side, His scars are bigger than these doubts of mine"). And when they exhort: "If we're adding to the noise, turn off this song", you'd be half-tempted to, if it wasn't for the fact that the song in question is so resolutely fine....full text
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