The Beautiful Letdown by Switchfoot
Yes, yes I know. This one is old news. But actually, it's not.
I remember when I bought this album years ago thinking, "these guys have a pretty unique sound." Of course I was into the singles "Meant to Live" and "Dare You to Move," but I liked just about every other one on this release too. Some killer writing to front surprisingly varied playing from the group.
Anyway, here's why I've been re-digging this album pretty hard lately:
I'm sure everyone remembers the hard rocker "Meant to Live," the first single and first track from this album. Very catchy guitar riffs, Bonham-esque drumming and a pretty inspirational message. Really a sum of the whole album if you ask me!
Next up is "This Is Your Life," a track that asks the listener to look inside. Even though Switchfoot is a band that crosses back and forth between Christian and non- music regularly, it's still unique to hear a group pose such a question to the listener. Most of the time we hear stuff that's about the singer or his/her loss. Not this time. The slow jam chorus is great for belting in the car... Just saying.
Number three is "More than Fine." This one that I didn't take to at first. Honestly, because of the cheesy 'timer going off' start and the 'thwappy' snare drum sample, I skipped this one several times just because of the intro. But... it gets better. The writing is honest and once again, inspirational. And truthfully, it's one we should all internalize. What' the point of living if you're not thriving?!
Following "More than Fine" is "Ammunition," one of my favorites. The funkified intro groove on kit is enough to pique my interest. But then we get thrown into a full-blown rock anthem. Has a distincting Pearl Jam/Stone Temple sound to these ears that basically calls us out.
(We've been blowing up) We're the issue, it's our condition.
(We've been blowing up) We're the issue, the detonation.
(We've been blowing up) We're the issue, we're ammunition.
Presumably for our own problems. Accountability people! Don't love unless you mean to!
Next up is the album's rock ballad and second single "Dare You to Move." This one is a beautiful song that challenges the listener to well, move. You can live complacently, slowly drowning in your problems or you can reach up to something higher and never look back. While it is a little repetitive, it's still a great song that shows how much these guys are invested in their message.
"Redemption" is an interesting tune from the two sides it portrays. One is the argument for letting go of your fears to well, redeem yourself. The second is the inner self being overwhelmed by the scars of our decisions. Which do you focus on more?
Following "Redemption" is the title track. An almost ambient intro with funky bass intro over some Gorillaz-esque sampling eventually leads to some post-pop riffing and grooving that's pretty tasty. Once again, Mr. Foreman delivers a fantastic way to put the following message: this material, ephemeral, limited world is not what we were truly made for. Probably my favorite track on the album. Killer playing, great layering, and may favorite song-writing out of 11 really well-written tracks. PS. Watch out for that bridge. It's a hidden gem.
"Gone" is next. I think of this as the albums cheeky, pop hit that would make fans of Ed Sheeran, Train, or Spin Doctors happy. Lots of little one-liners that come together to make a message that we all need to remember. Check it.
Three from the end, we get the true ballad, "On Fire." Sultry piano, mellow backgrounds, and soulful singing. This one could easily be the love child of Bebo Norman and Coldplay. That's not to belittle the content though. My very good friend Kella makes a point that illustrates this one quite well. Most people feel Him when they're close, but you have to open yourself up to recognize.
Penultimate track is called "Adding to the Noise." It has the same flavor as "Gone" but rocks a little harder. Once again we're reminded that things of this place aren't the ones we need to focus one. Good stuff.
Rounding out the album is a song called "Twenty-Four." The title comes from the song's inspiration: Jon Foreman's twenty four years of living. Certainly is an honest song about how our experiences will follow us always. Eventually we have to quit making excuses or regretting things in order to get to a real truth. Not a huge fan of the sound of this track, but I do support the message!
If you couldn't tell, "The Beautiful Letdown" is an album I've listened to a lot. It's incredibly well done, with excellent songwriting, tight and groovy playing, and enough variety to keep any and all Christian/alt/pop/grunge rockers pretty satisfied. Give it a listen if you haven't already!