Album Review: Switchfoot - 'Fading West'

9 January 2014 | 11:17 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

An album to rival Hello Hurricane.

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Fading West is by far Switchfoot's most ambitious project to date. Consisting of a feature length film documenting the band's 2012 world tour and the writing and recording of their latest album, as well as the album itself (for the purpose of this review, we'll be looking solely at the album), to say that the band have put a lot of time and work into these releases would be an extreme understatement. The 11-track album is arguably the band's most eclectic, diverse collection yet.

Both lyrically and musically, the album conveys a sense of joy. Switchfoot's last album, 'Vice Verses' sounds as if you're looking at the light at the end of a tunnel. 'Fading West' is what it feels like to reach that light. Whereas the former is sprinkled with a sense of hope, the latter is completely drenched in it, and it's definitely something that comes across in a big way when you're listening.

Starting off with 'Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,' the band give the backing vocals room to shine, launching the song off with the uplifting 'who-o-oa' chant throughout the intro. Chaneling a heavy influence from U2, the band creates a powerful, atmospheric song that serves well as an opener. When they move into 'Who We Are,' it becomes clear that there's been a major shift in the band's style since their last release. Led by some excellent lead guitar work from Drew Shirley, and Jon Foreman's powerful delivery in the chorus, it's somewhat understandable why this was the album's lead single. A little bit hard to access at first, but once you get there, you'll find an absolute gold mine of musicianship.

'Say It Like You Mean It' sounds like an amalgamation of Hello Hurricane's 'The Sound' and Vice Verses' 'Selling The News,' resulting in a style that has something of a resemblance to the Beastie Boys. The track is definitely the most 'rock' moment on the record, showing off the heavier side of the group's music. Tracks like 'When We Come Alive' and 'The World You Want' show off the Switchfoot's more epic/anthemic style.

'Ba55' completely flips every expectation that fans had on its head. Unsurprisingly bass-driven, given the title, keys/synth player Jerome Fontamillas features heavily here, with some very heavy electronics in play. Shirley shows off again, only this time lacing his guitar with a crazy amount of effects to fit in with Jerome's synth work, and the end result is a thing of beauty. 'Let It Out' and 'Saltwater Heart' sound like what happens when you take Switchfoot and mix them in with a healthy dose of pop, becoming some of the most fun and uplifting songs on the record, and adding to the already diverse musical landscape.

'Back To The Beginning Again' closes the album out well. As catchy as it is memorable, the track is one that is bound to be stuck in your head for days, or even weeks after hearing. Easily one of the best tracks on the record, the song closes off the album perfectly, leaving a very strong impression.

Switchfoot have kicked off 2014 in a big way, with 'Fading West' coming in as one of the very first releases of the year, and setting the bar high. The album stands out among the band's catalogue, and in nearly two decades as a group is possibly the best that Switchfoot have released.

  1.  Love Alone Is Worth The Fight
  2. Who We Are
  3. When We Come Alive
  4. Say It Like You Mean It
  5. The World You Want
  6. Slipping Away
  7. Ba55
  8. Let It Out
  9. All or Nothing At All
  10. Saltwater Heart
  11. Back To The Beginning Again