Switchfoot - Learning to Breathe
Released on September 26, 2000 on Sparrow Records
4 / 5
Jon Foreman - Vocals/Guitar
Tim Foreman - Bass/ Backing Vocals
Chad Butler - Drums
’Learning to Breathe’ felt like we were beginning to hit our stride as a band. Two albums and five years of touring had matured us as a band. This was the most prepared we had ever been before entering the studio. These were songs we’d been playing live as a band, trying out new ideas. There was a sense of confidence upon entering the studio that we’d never felt before at the beginning of a project. This was an enjoyable album, recorded in six weeks with long-time friend/producer Charlie Peacock and newcomer Jaquire King. This album felt like we were turning the corner -- we had finally demystified the recording process, and we were no longer intimidated by it.” -Tim Foreman (www.switchfoot.com)
The demistifying of the recording process comes through on this album. The Band as a whole evolved from their previous recording into a more mature sound that is evident with number of solid tracks on this album. The album lived up to be a worthy successor to the sophmore album New Way to Be Human, and suceeded in showing that the band was capable and ready for what what would be their most sucessful album to date, The Beautiful Letdown. Switchfoot is a blend of post-grundge and alternative rock that doesn't really fit any particular category.
I Dare You To Move - 4.5 / 5
This is where the song first appeared. The song was reproduced for The Beautiful Letdown and gained much of its sucess from the later release. This version is slightly different but still a wholesome track. Easily recognizable and very catchy. However, listening to the album more, I found that while enjoyable, the track was eclipsed by later tracks. Great song nonetheless.
Learning to Breathe - 5 / 5
One of the best songs from the album. Excellent intoduction that is catchy while still mystifying. The bands growth shines through on this track. With lyrics that captivate. Jons vocals find all the right spots and is backed by simple but eloquent guitar and drum work.
You Already Take Me There - 5 / 5
One of the best Switchfoot songs. CAUTION: EXTREMELY CATCHY. Somehow this song reminds me of the title track off New Way to be Human. Lyrics are definetely something that Jon excells at. The song features all of the members of the band respectively. Check out the video too if you want to get a feel for them.
Love is the Movement - 5 / 5
This is actually the reason I bought this album. I heard it on the radio a long time ago and never knew who sang it. Begins talking about the LA riots, and how everyone is looking for something. I've also read that this song was inspired by book two of the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When they enter the Frozen castle. Something about Jons dad reading it to him when he was a kid. It doesn't matter. Its a great song. Great guitar work, great lyrics, The chorus is catchy and the end of the song is memorable because of the a capella vocals working in counterpoint.
Poparazzi - 4 / 5
I find this song ironic in that it talks about things that get stuck in your head, and how that sucks most of the time. But this song does just that. I initially found this song kind of annoying and immature. But It sort of grew on me. The variation of adding piano out of nowhere in the middle of the song and then singing in a flat tone immediatly after that. The song builds again and climaxes. Then cuts out, fools me everytime, but the song goes on. Give it a chance and it will grow on you.
Innocence Again - 4 / 5
This song caught my attention immediatly because of the intro. On my first listening through the song, the song seemed as though i'ld already heard it a million times and the lyrics seemed such a logical progression. Some good bass work, and some great guitar work. The backup vocals come through very well on this track. Easily skippable but still enjoyable.
Playing for Keeps - 3 / 5
A little to formulatic for my tastes. I don't really know what it is that I don't like about this song. I think they couldn't decide if they wanted to make this a hard song or a soft song. So it kind of falls somewhere in the middle. The backup vocal "oooohs" bug me. Time for moving on.
The Loser - 4 / 5
A decent song that shows where the band was heading in The Beautiful Letdown. This song shows Jons vocal range and ability very well! The bit in the middle about selling out hit home perfectly and imprinted the song in my head. Some darker tones and a bit more lyricism than the previous songs. Jon makes his voice jump around from high to low appropriatly. the Guitar work is enjoyable, the intro is one of most fun on the album. Check this out
The Economy of Mercy - 3 / 5
This song just seems forced to me. I don't want to say filler because i've listened to Switchfoot enough to know that they try to slow it down a bit throughout the album to add contrast. And in this case it slows the album down. But the lyrics just seem awkward. The Economy of Mercy, the Currency of Grace.... while great on paper, just don't work for me in the song.
Erosion - 4 / 5
The lyricism of this song is astounding. I love just reading them. The intro has a weird effect on Jons voice. The guitar is fun and kinda funky. The background vocals are fun and optimistic sounding. The drums shine through and the whole band again finds a place where they all meet on common ground. The overall sound of this song is varied, from distorted to clean guitars, to almost a capella, then back to the whole band. This is another look at where Switchfoot would go with The Beautiful Letdown, and even further with Nothing is Sound. I can't immediatly compare it to a later song, but the sound is definetely more mainstream than their earlier works.
Living is Simple - 3 / 5
This song is a typical switchfoot song. While showing a bit of Jons range, it doesn't really leave anything on the table for noteriety. I found it easily skippable. Not a good song to end the album on. While the songs lyrics are indeed good, the songs musical qualities left me asking for more. It again seemed to be in the same place as Economy of Mercy. Not quite hard enough, and not quite soft enough to find its mark. The ending is kind've cool how they did the breaking up with static, then a solid chord with the sound of someone walking out of the studio.
Nothing spectacular, but worth giving a listen.
While indeed being a fan of Switchfoot, I honestly couldn't find a song on this album that didn't have some redeeming quality. Not all of the tracks were spectacular, and some not even great. They did however fit an overall theme for the album and meshed together fairly well...
This is my first review, and I would like to do more, I admit I probably have bit of a bias, I'll look over it at a later date and try to re-examine the album in a different light and mood.