Review Summary: Magnificently consistent and stellar San Diego rockers look back on near flawless career2 of 2 thought this review was well written
In 14 years, humble San-Diego based band Chin Up have become the globally successful five-piece known as Switchfoot. They pretty much soundtracked 2002 move "A Walk to Remember", and lead actress Mandy Moore covered one of their songs. The band are all professing Christians and despite occasional criticism from both sides of the religious fence and a general silence on the matter, they are still immensely popular with both Christian and non-Christian audiences. They've been heavily involved in charity and humanitarian work throughout their career, working with organisations including Habitat for Humanity and To Write Love On Her Arms. After an illustrious and eventful 14 years, it's time for some well earned reflection in the form of "The Best Yet".
The compilation kicks off with "Dare You To Move", the band's most popular and highest charting song- a fitting start. It's followed by their other big hit "Meant To Live". The opening tracks hurl us into the raw energy Switchfoot are capable of. The heavy riff of "Meant to Live" has never seemed ironic or pretentious in all the years since the band's breakthrough, and it still doesn't. Similarly, Jerome Fontamillas' atonal piano bashing in the middle of "Oh! Gravity." still never ceases to make me laugh and want to thrash around whatever room I'm in, regardless of the appropriateness. That's something Switchfoot are endlessly capable off- inspiring a teenage desire to just rock out and leap around your bedroom in a way that's so fun and pure that you couldn't give a toss about what the haters and cynics think about their standard rock aesthetic. Yet in the midst of this frenzy, the poignant and deeply spiritual lyricism of ringleader Jon Foreman is never once lost. The lyrics of the first few tracks are reminders of what a challenging lyricist Foreman is in many ways with lines like "we were meant to live for so much more", "I dare you to move" and "Oh! Gravity, why can't we keep it together?"
Half a dozen tracks in, we're reminded of the band's ability to gently touch our spiritual nerves and break our hearts. The powerful "On Fire" is one of those soul bearing piano ballad moments that seems so much more earnest and beautiful when it's sung by a man It's accompanied by another soft, vulnerable ballad, "Only Hope"- the song covered by Mandy Moore, and one of the band's most spiritual songs. Then, Switchfoot's heavier side thunders out with blues-rock-stomper "Dirty Second Hands", a song that displays a slightly darker side to Foreman's lyrics, lamenting the inescapable passage of time. The final third of the album is the patchiest though. It contains some of the bands weaker songs like "Company Car" and "Concrete Girl". Both of these songs come form the bands first two albums- "The Legend of Chin and "New Way to Be Human". They were still finding their feet on those albums, but it's a shame that their highlights such as "Chem 6A" and "Let that Be Enough" have been excluded.
However, this compilation album gives us an expansive overview of Switchfoot's nearly flawless career. Plenty of pretentious arty types or Pitchfork reviewers would slate Switchfoot, dismissing them as uninteresting college/drive-time rock. But they don't comprehend the direct yet magnificent nature of Switchfoot's ethic, lyrics, conduct and sound. Switchfoot are not and never will be the most innovative band in the universe. If a new band ended up trying to sound like Switchfoot, they would be the kind of banal college rock I just mentioned. Only Switchfoot can do what they do. They have the enviable gift of inspiring everyone within listening distance to simply raise their voices, clap their hands, examine their hearts, rock out, throw off their preconceptions, pretensions and preferences and enjoy brilliant rock music.