Switchfoot
interrobang


4.5
superb

Review

by Sowing STAFF
August 23rd, 2021 | 74 replies


Release Date: 08/20/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: the apology you've been waiting for

The moment Switchfoot won me back was a little under three minutes into 'flourescent.' After two minutes of groove-laden drums and rejuvenating gushes of electric guitar, frontman Jon Foreman screams in a near fever pitch, "my wings can't last this long." It only lasts for a few seconds, but for fans who endured the mainstream trend-grasping Native Tongue – or the shallow surf-pop of Fading West only years prior – it's everything. If there's something that has been sorely missing from the band's craft lately, it's the kind of grit that made The Beautiful Letdown and Hello Hurricane feel like they were impassioned, desperate pleas to live life to the fullest. Without that edge, Switchfoot has a tendency to rest a little too comfortably within the confines of contemporary Christian rock. If you've ever had an interest in Switchfoot but have felt it wane over the last half-decade or so, then interrobang is precisely the apology you've been waiting for.

interrobang is tense and moody, ebbing and flowing through a series of electronically-tinged alt-rock tracks which seem to be constantly on the verge of a breakdown. Switchfoot rarely indulges though, preferring to maintain tension throughout. Instead, we get glimpses of it – like the nearly screamed vocals on 'flourescent' and 'splinter', the surge of electronics and synths across the back half of 'wolves', the twisting and mysterious strings that wrap their tentacles around 'i need you (to be wrong)', or the pianos trickling down the back of 'the bones of us' like a shiver. interrobang is subtle and restrained, each note artfully arranged as it bides its time for the perfect spine-tingling accent or breathtaking instrumental breakthrough. Everything about this record is slightly off-kilter, but for a band that has become a little too stable of late, it's the perfect touch.

The vocals here are astonishing. Foreman has never sounded so versatile, weaving his way through interrobang's shapeshifting soundscape with elegance and poise. His range is fully unleashed, from the low register and sinister tonality of 'wolves' to the almost countryish closer 'electricity.' Along with some of the gruffer performances that have already been noted, we're able to witness Foreman's polar extremes and everything in between. The brilliance isn't just in the delivery itself though, it's how his vocals are used in the mix. Layering is used to its maximum benefit here, accenting moments of poignancy and sometimes even spinning up dense atmospheres out of nothing other than Foreman's self-harmonizing. I'm almost reminded of Manchester Orchestra's A Black Mile to the Surface, because there are definitely times when interrobang isn't doing much of anything instrumentally, but it still sounds earth-shattering. It's tough to achieve that effect with vocals alone, but Foreman's performance is both urgent and momentous; a cornerstone of interrobang's successful formula.

Lyrically, interrobang seems very rooted in the unfortunate divides of our present day. On the resplendent opener 'beloved', Foreman sings, "I'm still looking for the truth / but I can't seem to find it in the news", proceeding to lament partisan divides on 'lost cause' ("you won't see me as I am, not the enemy") and 'if i were you' (with Twitter as our liturgy / what a crummy legacy / 2020 enemies...If I were you and you were me, would we still be doomed to disagree?"). Although the content revolves around these bleak topics, Foreman still seems bent on working towards resolution, always offering some semblance of a silver lining: "cause if you're stuck with me, I guess I'm stuck with you / could we rise above the scars that we both put each other through?" Perhaps the most uplifting sentiment comes amid the darkness of 'wolves' (seriously, this is one of the best songs Switchfoot has ever crafted), a single line delivered with steadfast resolve: "Hopе is a war that is yet to begin."

interrobang is an album that most Switchfoot fans never would have foreseen. The tempo variation, agile production, and unique instrumental usage make it unlike anything else that Switchfoot has churned out in their nearly twenty-five year career. The record seemingly values emotional intensity and sonic experimentation above all else, and it's an approach that suits the band particularly well on the heels of some predictable and less-than-stellar pop outings. It's surprisingly fresh, lyrically relevant, and musically unpredictable – all things that Switchfoot was not two years ago when they dropped Native Tongue. This is an improvement in every conceivable way, and it will instantly vie for the title of the very best Switchfoot record.




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user ratings (39)
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Mateo Ottie (4.5)
I need you (to be wrong)...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Sowing
Moderator
August 23rd 2021


39324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Just hyping Switchfoot in 2021, nbd.

Okay back to relentlessly jamming Colors II.

Digging: S. Raekwon - Where I'm at Now

Emim
August 23rd 2021


31167 Comments


As with needtobreathe's latest, I'm not nearly as enamored by this as you, but just seeing them get some love on sput warms my old heart. I'll need a few more listens to make up my mind, but it's probably a 3.5 for me.

Purpl3Spartan
August 23rd 2021


1472 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Need to check this

Digging: Bilmuri - 400LB BACK SQUAT

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


11612 Comments


Awesome review, I'll have to check this out. Haven't listened to a Switchfoot album in years, but I've definitely heard great things about this one

Atari
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


26864 Comments


excellent review, haven't really jammed them in years but I'm down

Digging: Patterson Hood - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


15237 Comments


Okay back to relentlessly jamming Colors II.

Sames ; ]

DivergentThinking
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


11612 Comments


I think I may put out my Colors II review tonight... I've had quite the writeup brewing over the last few days :]

Parallels
August 23rd 2021


9621 Comments


I dare you to m̶o̶v̶e̶... submit your Colors II review

Was an enjoyable read, Sowing. Never really liked these guys despite being subjected to them time and time again by youth groupies back in 2009.

Lucman
August 23rd 2021


5348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

This is the Switchfoot I love. Wonderful read, Sowing.

Digging: Joanna Newsom - Ys

KrillBoi
August 23rd 2021


49 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excuse me? Switchfoot back to being good? What is going on. Have to hear this for myself before believing this.

Digging: Vildhjarta - Msstaden Under Vatten

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


14768 Comments


Why do they call him Jon Foreman when he don’t even construction

BrushedRed
August 23rd 2021


3481 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have a hard time believing a switchfoot album in 2021 is deserving of these ratings but we’ll see. Could be a surprise

mynameischan
Emeritus
August 23rd 2021


1927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really not liking this so far. The first song is like if the Foo Fighters wrote a shitty version of Strawberry Fields Forever. The bones of us is the first song I actually like.

Sowing
Moderator
August 23rd 2021


39324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Personally I love the opener. The production throughout this album is fantastic and I am really enjoying how much they've shaken up their sound since the last few outings. And yeah, Bones of Us is absolutely incredible. Those pianos...

Snake.
August 23rd 2021


23591 Comments


https://static1.srcdn.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/press-x-to-doubt-la-noire.jpg?q=50&fit=crop&w=960&h=500&dpr=1.5

Project
August 23rd 2021


5198 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sowing I am not gonna lie, most of the the lyrics you quoted look terribly cringey to me...



but I will give this a listen out of desperate hope that this can come close to being as good as Oh! Gravity

Digging: The World Is a Beautiful Place... - Illusory Walls

gschwen
August 23rd 2021


641 Comments


I have a hard time believing a switchfoot album in 2021 is deserving of these ratings but we’ll see. [2]

Sowing
Moderator
August 23rd 2021


39324 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You'll have to listen and find out! I don't think this will win over new fans per se, but if there was a time in your life when you enjoyed Switchfoot then I do think this album has what it takes to regain your trust. It experiments with new song structures//styles, the production is very glossy and inviting without sounding thin, Foreman brings a wide range of vocals/emotions, and the whole thing is very moody and understated compared to what I perceive to be "typical Switchfoot". Who knows though, it's just my take.

mynameischan
Emeritus
August 23rd 2021


1927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The album really just commits the sin of not being catchy, and the lyrics aren’t good enough to hook me otherwise. I’m glad you’re liking it so much though Sowing.

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this album just keeps getting better



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