Let's start with this: I am a huge Switchfoot fan and have been since the very beginning (which is The Legend of Chin album, not Dare You to Move or Meant to Live singles!). Let me also say that these are my thoughts after my first full listen last night.
This latest album is a new sound for the boys from southern california. It's fresh, but it's also catchy-pop and for that reason I feel like I should not like it on principle, being a britpop, indie rock, guitar-driven music kinda guy!
There are hints of Coldplay with a lot of "wooooaahs" a la "Viva la Vida" and "Mylo Xyloto" era, and also hints of The Killers with the use of synth. This is not a bad thing, just a new venture for Switchfoot in my mind.
What makes it still distinctively Switchfoot though are the following things:
1. Jon's unmistakably distinct and fantastic vocals.
2. The wonderfully crafted lyrics (of which there are some real gems).
Other than that, this is a far cry from the gritty and heavy guitars of Meant to Live or Mess of Me. There are a couple of songs that hint back to that sound; "Ba55" (reminding me of "Dirty Second Hands" in some ways) and "Say It Like You Mean It" (recalling "The Sound" in my mind) have chunky bass and driving drums.
The stand out track for me has to be "The World You Want". The lyrics are stunning and I plan to write a post on some of them over at my other. slightly neglected blog, Theolyrical.
At the moment I think this will sadly be one of my least favourite Switchfoot albums. I am hoping it will be a 'grower' and I do think there is plenty of potential for that. Maybe I'm just not a huge fan of change and so this will take some getting used to and maybe I will have to write another post after a few more listens and bit more reflection.
The other thing to remember is that this is part of a bigger project. As is it a movie soundtrack I can totally imagine the tunes fitting a docu-film about music, touring and surfing, so once I get round to seeing the film I am sure the album will take on a whole new meaning.
Overall what I will always admire and commend Switchfoot for is their desire to make good, well crafted music, using the talent they have, to bring glory to God. And although at this moment the jury is out for me on the latest album, they've still achieved their goal.