Switchfoot – [Album]

Monday, 18 January 2010

After a label switch (from Sony to Atlantic) and a three-year hiatus from studio recording that saw singer Jon Foreman testing the waters of solo work instead, Switchfoot has returned  renewed with Hello Hurricane – a reaffirming but more secular than spiritual document that bears the first marks of more mature work for the band.

The difference between Hello Hurricane and all of the band's previous work is apparent from the opening rush of “Needle And Haystack Life.” No longer the product of the 'god rock' craze that began in the late Nineties and first got Switchfoot noticed, this album is most definitely a transitional one for the band; Foreman has the weary disposition of a man whose faith has been tested and he isn't quite sure yet if everything that he once held to be true is worth believing in anymore. Talk of uncertainty and observations of spiritual indiscretions (drugs, most notably) characterize the lyric sheets of “Needle And Haystack Life,” “Mess Of Me,” “Enough To Let Me Go” and “Bullet Soul” as the singer looks on the world with new eyes that don't hope for the best so much as chronicle the events and actions of those people in the world that give more thought to basic survival than they do spiritual discovery or enlightenment.

This line of thinking might sound familiar to some and easy to decipher why – it's the same tack that U2 has been on and consistently turned platinum for decades.

Foreman is not alone in his fallen curiosity either. Rather than try to offset the singer's existential questioning, bassist Tim Foreman, drummer Chad Butler, guitarist Drew Shirley and keyboardist/guitarist Jerome Fontamillas all fall in line by trying on as man different sounds as there are songs on Hello Hurricane (twelve, incidentally) in an attempt to support their singer as they simultaneously produce a soundtrack that won't leave the fans that have stuck with them faithfully since The Legend Of Chin. As a result, what comes across is a wildly diverse set that jumps from celestial longing and disappointment in “Needle And Haystack Life” (which actually does sound like U2) to balls-out and forceful rock in “Mess Of Me,” to Billy Talent-esque rock-punk in “The Sound” to warm and heartfelt balladry (“Your Love Is A Song,” “Enough To Let Me Go”) at the drop of a hat and would be normally perceived as desperate stylistic reaching reaching were each song not so fully-formed and solid but, because they are, Switchfoot simply comes off as versatile and Hello Hurricane appears as an excellent showcase of that fact.

So, at this point, the obvious question should be, “Has Switchfoot fallen from grace?” That isn't so easy to answer. True, Hello Hurricane bears little in the way of the celestial hope and belief or serene assurance that characterized the band's previous work. It's consistently a little darker and more critical than the band has ever been before – but listeners receive a surprising look at some new possibilities in their artistic voice in the trade; the image of them is not so two-dimensional as it once was. The reach and scope of the sounds on Hello Hurricane is far greater than that of any album  the band has released previously and it's made all the more rewarding by the fact that they don't falter at any point. If Switchfoot has fallen from grace with Hello Hurricane, the best thing that the band could hope to do is fall a little further; they're on the cusp of making music that actually matters here.



Hello Hurricane
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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