After the huge success of their last album (The Beautiful Let Down) one would think that Switchfoot wouldnít be able to top themselves. If you thought so, then Switchfootís 5th album ďNothing is Sound" will prove you so wrong. With a much darker lyrics and the addition of a 3rd guitarist (Andrew Shirley) Switchfoot proves they are here to stay. In some places they are even being referred to as the new U2, I donít know what I think about that though.
Jon Foreman Ė Lead vocals and guitar
Tim Foreman Ė Bass and backing vocals
Chad Butler - Drums
Jerome Fontamillas Ė Keys and guitar
Andrew Shirley - Guitar
Lonely Nation Ė From the first track it is evident that Switch foot is evolving into a much darker, heavier, and more guitar based sound. But yet they still retain that feel from The Beautiful Letdown and A New Way to Be Human. Lonely nation starts with full force blasting us with an excellent mix of distorted guitar, clean guitar, and piano, all of these combine perfectly to form an intense song from beginning to end. At the chorus its pure crunchy, distorted guitar and Jonís trade mark vocals with catchy lyrics that will be stuck in your head all day. A superb opener.
Stars Ė This tack also starts with a heavy intro riff, but itís not as dark as Lonely Nation. Once again Jon serves us up a catchy vocal chorus and trademark Switchfoot bridge. Jonís voice sounds like itís overdubbed with delay and echo in the chorus but its not, they recorded Jonís voice with stereo mics while he sang the chorus into the chamber of a grand piano. A quite inventive way to avoid using digital vocal effects. Timís bass doesnít seem to be that noticeable in this track, which is a shame because Timís smooth bass lines have always been a welcome sound to my ears.
Happy is a Yuppie Word Ė From the title of the song you would think Switchfoot has gone down the road of depression music and a bleak outlook on life. But once one closely examines the lyrics (Which I wonít do here) they will realize that the band still retains their hopeful attitude and uplifting lyrics without being flowery and cheesy. The song itís self takes a slight softer tone and slows the tempo down, giving us a break from the intensity of the previous two songs. We can really see how much Jonís voice has evolved here, as he nearly breaks into screams in the end without missing a beat. The band really seems to gel extremely well on this track.
The Shadow Proves The Sunshine Ė This one starts out very gentle and still retains the darker tone of the album. Jon is once again heard singing into the chamber of a grand piano in the intro which perfectly fits the song. After a while a smooth rolling piano line comes in accompanied by some light guitar in the background. In the end the intensity picks up with a heavier drum beat with Andrew quietly but emotionally soloing alongside. In the end, this track is very serene and is very reminiscent of U2.
Easier Than Lover Ė Here we go, a classic, fast passed, catchy song in the vein of Gone from TBLD. But Easier Than Lover surpasses the former with the darker lyrical vibe about how sex has corrupted the world. For the umpteenth time, a great chorus by a great band.
The Blues Ė The first balled off the album. A slower song where the guitar takes back seat to Jonís peaceful, insightful lyrics. We are also treated to some soft piano from Jerome and a sharp baseline from Tim you can just get lost in. A perfect contrast to the previous song. The backing vocals at the end only add to the peaceful tone of the song. Chadís drumming accents the song perfectly with no obtrusiveness what so ever. A stellar performance by every band member and one of my favorite songs on the album.
The Setting Sun Ė A perfect follow up, it brings the pace of the album up with out being too much of a contrast to the slow tempo of The Blues. We still have the peaceful tone here, and one again the guitar takes backseat to another awesome baseline. Not one of my favorites but still a good uplifting song which only retains the darker tone of the album in the beginning.
Politicians Ė My favorite song of the album and also the darkest and heaviest. The guitars are brought front stage full force here with a killer riff and perfect, evolving, accents to Jonís vocals in the verse. One of my favorite choruses here:
ďI pledge alliance to a country without borders without politicians,
Watching for my sky to get torn apart,
We are broken we are bitter,
Weíre the problem weíre the politicians,
Come on and break me"
If you hear only one song off this album make it be this one.
Golden Ė The only song I donít really care for on the album. Itís not a bad song by any stretch of the imagination; itís just too poppy for me. From the simple drum beat to the backing vocals this reeks of radio. Which isnít a bad thing for some people but it is for me.
The Fatal Wound Ė Oh yes! This starts out with a looming baseline in the background and nice dark acoustic guitar parts. Jonís harmonica after the chorus comes out of nowhere but fits right in place with the rest of the song. The shortest song on the album at 2:40, but the length seems to fit it perfectly. In a welcome switch, the verse here is more prominent that the chorus and are a thing to be heard. An all-around perfect song with just a hint of blues in the otherwise rocking song.
We Are One Tonight Ė Surprise of all surprises, another great song. This one isnít dark or heavy but itís still great. From the perfectly timed drumming, the layer vocals, and Jon screaming at the end, itís too perfect. Itís so perfect I canít think of anything else to say about it but that. You really need to hear this one for your self.
Daisy Ė An oddity on the album, this one completely acoustic in the beginning with some very light keyboards in the background and superb bass work by Tim. The vocals in the chorus seem as though you could just fall into them, Jonís voice with Tim in the background gives such a deep rich tone. The song explodes for the last 45 seconds with some distortion and frantic soloing it the background. Also hear can be found some of Jonís best lyrics about a girl who canít let go of her worldly desires and self centered ness. A perfect close to a near perfect album.
While this album does get high marks it wonít appealed to everyone, fans of hard rock and metal might be disappointed by Switchfootís fifth album, and the whole album is not as hard and heavy as most hard rock today. The people that will get the most out of this one is the ones who like multiple, diverse genres and all-around good music.
VERY IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE WITH MP3 PLAYERS!
Note: A lot of people are really angry about the fact that this CD is copy protected. If you want to have this on your Ipod I suggest you download the album from iTunes or some similar website Instead of buying the physical album. If you really want to get around the copy protection then pay the extra money for the dual disc version that is not protected. And just to let you know, Switchfoot had nothing to do with the copy protection, it was all the doing of Sparrow records. So donít go accusing Switchfoot of being greedy prim donnas.