Nothing is Sound



by Rock-n-Roll USER (2 Reviews)
August 30th, 2006 | 16 replies

Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist

You see, I have this problem. I have the most inspiration to write a review for an album at the time where I think the album itself is the best thing since… well, you know the saying. This happens to be one of those times. A while ago, I wrote a review boldly saying that The Beautiful Letdown was Switchfoot's best album. In this review, I will prove myself wrong.

Nothing Is Sound is a better album than The Beautiful Letdown. Now, you ask, "How do I know this fool won't change his mind again"" Well, this time around I actually have reasons why Nothing Is Sound is Switchfoot's greatest accomplishment to this day:

1) Better lyrics and expanded ideas. In this release, Jon Foreman delves even deeper into himself to pull out fantastic songs that cover relationships, the world, people, and mainly, our broken society. The greatest part about Switchfoot music is that every song makes you think and there is no let up in that here. Props to Foreman.
2) There is a sound in all of the tracks of this album that lets you know that it is a Nothing Is Sound song. This may seem bad because it makes it seem as if every song is the same. Rest assured they are not. The uniform sound of all 12 tracks creates unity within the album and adds to it.
3) Drew Shirley. The introduction of the fifth band member really adds to the songs. In The Beautiful Letdown, it often felt like there was a void in the sound as if it was not complete, or even not loud enough. Shirley, guitar player, fills this void perfectly and completes the Switchfoot experience.

With Drew Shirley added, Switchfoot is a five-piece band. Let's take a look at the lineup:
Jon Foreman - vocals, guitar (all five albums)
Tim Foreman - bass (all five albums)
Chad Butler - drums (all five albums)
Jerome Fontamillas - keyboards, guitar (The Beautiful Letdown and Nothing Is Sound)
Drew Shirley - guitar (Nothing Is Sound)

Well, perhaps, you'd like to ask me, "Hey buddy, if Nothing Is Sound is so great, why did it only get a fifth of the sales of The Beautiful Letdown"" This is true, but it was not Switchfoot's fault. Very soon after this album's November 2005 release, it was taken off the shelves by Sony due to the CD acting like spyware when inserted into a computer. This really damaged album sales figures. Nothing Is Sound ended up going gold with 525,000 sold, while it's predecessor, The Beautiful Letdown went double platinum with 2.6 million album sales.

1. Lonely Nation (5/5)
This is my favourite song on the album. The lyrics are the some of the best on the album, and it has the best chorus on the album. This song was written by both of the Foreman brothers. I think that what they are saying here is that no matter how different everyone on the planet is, we are the same in that we are all constant targets of corporations and we are all victims of capitalism and greed.
We are the target market
We set the corporate target
We are slaves of what we want

2. Stars (4.5/5)
This was Nothing is Sound's first single and while it may not have been my choice, it was a good one. This song was huge on the radio and is the most widely known song on the album. Interesting lyrics, and a very catchy chorus make this a great song. This song is written from two perspectives; Foreman looking at the stars, and the stars looking at us. Jon is saying that when he looks at the stars, everything is okay and simple. When the stars look at us, they don't understand how our existence became so complicated.
But when I look at the stars
I feel like myself
Stars looking at a planet
Watching entropy and pain
And maybe start to wonder how the chaos in our lives could pass as sane

3. Happy is a Yuppie Word (4.5/5)
This is a perfect example of the saying, "don't judge a book by it's cover." To a person who has never heard Switchfoot's music, this title may seem "emo" but it is clearly not when you listen to the song. The song is actually named after something that Bob Dylan said while being interviewed by the Rolling Stone. This song has great guitar and an awesome bridge at the end in which Jon Foreman continuously screams, "Nothing is sound!" It is because of this and other instances in which he uses the phrase, that this song is considered the title song of the album.
Everyone dies
Everyone loves a fight
Nothing is sound
Nothing is right side right

4. The Shadow Proves The Sunshine (5/5)
The song starts with Chad hitting the hi-hats very slowly and Jon singing quietly with an echo. This sets the mood of the whole song. I find the message of this song intriguing. It seems to me that Foreman is reaching out to those who are depressed or given up on life and telling them that if there is a shadow, there must be a sunshine
We are crooked souls trying to stay up straight
Dry eyes in the pouring rain, well
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine
Too scared that I'll run away
Hold fast to the break of day, well
The shadow proves the sunshine
The shadow proves the sunshine

5. Easier Than Love (5/5)
This song is about sex, how it sells us, and how it has become a replacement for love. Switchfoot is saying that those who have not found love use sex as a solution. This song seems to be an anthem for teenagers like myself. Chad Butler's excellent drumming really shows here and the chorus is also very catchy.
Everyone's been scared to death of dying here alone
Sex, it's easier than love
It's easier than love
It's easier to fake and smile and bribe
It's easier to live
It's easier to lie
It's harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone
What have we done"
What is the monster we've become"
Where is my soul"

6. The Blues (5/5)
The song starts with Jerome's keyboarding and Jon's soft singing. This is the second ballad on the album and the slowest. What Switchfoot is trying to say is that on the day our society caves in, we will find everything and everyone we have forgotten.
There's nothing here worth saving
There's no one here at all
Is there any net left that can break our fall"
It'll be a day like this one
When the sky falls down
And the hungry and poor and deserted are found…
It'll be a day like this one
When the world caves in

7. The Setting Sun (4/5)
Jon's voice sounds fantastic during the verses and the chorus is very catchy. What Foreman is saying in this song is that he needs a place where he can be free. He believes that this place would be beyond the setting sun however, if he goes toward the setting sun, it will not be long before the sun is setting there as well. So really what he is saying is that there is nowhere in the world where he can be free or himself.
It won't be long, I belong
Somewhere past the setting sun
Finally free, finally strong
Somewhere back where I belong

8. Politicians (5/5)
This song is about, as you I'm sure you've already guessed, politicians and government. More specifically though it is about how the government watches as everyone and itself slowly destroy our world through pollution, corruption, and war. This a great song with fantastic guitar. You can really tell the presence of Drew Shirley in this one. The vocals are also very good.
I pledge allegiance to a country
Without borders, without politicians
Watching for our sky to get torn apart
We are broken, we are bitter
We're the problem, we're the politicians

9. Golden (5/5)
In this song, Jon Foreman is telling a girl that she is golden and that it doesn't matter if others label her as mediocre. He is trying to convince her not to take her own life tonight. While this may seem like a dark theme, it is actually a very uplifting song. This song is home to Nothing Is Sound's catchiest chorus.
She's alone tonight
With the bitter cuffed hand
She's undone tonight
She's all used up
She's been staring down the demons
Who've been screaming she's just another so and so
Another so and so
You are golden
You are golden child
You are golden
Don't let go
Don't let go tonight.

10. The Fatal Wound (3.5/5)
This is not a bad song, but it is the weakest on the album. It has a good acoustic guitar sound and an interesting harmonica going but overall it falls short of the quality of the other songs on the album.
This is the real thing
No rubber bullets now
This is the final bow

11. We Are One Tonight (5/5)
This song is one of my favourites on the album and it is Nothing Is Sound's second single and unfortunately, it did not achieve the radio success the lesser Stars did. It starts with a very interesting guitar riff and is supported by great vocals on Jon's part.
We are one tonight
And we're singing it all
We are one tonight
And we're dreaming out loud
And the world is flawed
And these scars will heal
We are one tonight

12. Daisy (5/5)
Daisy is completely soft acoustic guitar until the last 45 seconds where there is a loud electric finale. I found the acoustic guitar part to be the best acoustic guitar ever by Switchfoot. Jon's voice is at it's most innocent on this track and it sounds terrific.
Give yourself away
Look up at the rain
A beautiful display
Of power and surrender
Giving us today
When she gives herself away

Almost all the tracks on this album are fantastic but if I had to pick the three best they would be Lonely Nation, Easier Than Love, and We Are One Tonight. Interestingly enough, these are the three songs that Tim also had a part in writing.

As I've already mentioned, three great things about this album are Switchfoot's best lyrics yet, song unity, and adding a fifth band member, Drew Shirley. It seems that with every album, Switchfoot enhances, evolves, and matures their sound. Nothing Is Sound is no exception. Thumbs up.

Some songs, such as Stars and Golden, can get repetitive. However, these songs are the ones with the catchiest choruses so this could also be viewed as a plus.

With Switchfoot, most of the time you either do not like them at all or you are a big fan. I am, of course, the latter. I love this band. They have permanently affected my musical outlook and view on life in a big way. So yes, I am biased. But this does not invalidate my opinions. This is a fantastic album and I'd recommend those who haven't given Switchfoot a chance to do so with an open mind. Go ahead, I dare you. I did, and I am ever grateful of the friend who showed me this band and I am also grateful to Switchfoot for their dedication to making music that actually matters. Thank you.

Final Score: Classic (5/5)

user ratings (314)
other reviews of this album
ZoolanderHotept (4.5)

BringHomeTheBacon (3.5)

Comments:Add a Comment 
August 30th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

Note: It has been a month since I wrote this review and due to technical reasons, I was unable to get it online. However, a month later, I still feel the same way about the album so we know it was not just an obsession-of-the-week.

By the way, I'm going to see Switchfoot live on September 13th this year which is the one year anniversary of this classic album. I can't wait.

I also can't wait for your comments on the review. Let's hear it.

August 30th 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

This is not a classic album, hell, it isn't even a good album. Your review is pretty good for a track by track though. Nice work.

August 30th 2006


Take away the lyrics and this is just another two line track by track.

Two-Headed Boy
August 30th 2006


Album Rating: 2.0

I used to like these guys then I realized "Hey, these guys aren't too great".

You're review is okay.

August 30th 2006


You're review is okay

Your FACE isn't. Pwn3d.
I liked Ment To Live, I know that's not on this album, but meh.

August 30th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

This is not a classic album, hell, it isn't even a good album. Your review is pretty good for a track by track though. Nice work.
Like I said, either you love the band or don't. You obviously don't. I just hope that before you boldly claim that this is not a classic album, that you had listened to the whole album from start to finish instead of just listening to a few songs you randomly downloaded.

Take away the lyrics and this is just another two line track by track.
Haha, yeah. But I feel that with Switchfoot, the lyrics are incredibly important to each song, especially with this album.

I used to like these guys then I realized "Hey, these guys aren't too great".
Haha, I hope that doesn't happen to me.

Thanks for the comments. Keep them coming.

August 30th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I liked Ment To Live, I know that's not on this album, but meh.
If you liked Meant to Live, download Lonely Nation.

And for anyone who hasn't been sold by this album, download these three songs and listen with an open mind:

Lonely Nation

Easier Than Love

We Are One Tonight

Thanks guys.This Message Edited On 08.30.06

August 30th 2006


[quote=Neoteric]Take away the lyrics and this is just another two line track by track.[/quote] Unfortunately, he's right. It's a good try, but falls short review-wise. Can't say I've ever really liked Switchfoot either.

This is coming from a guy who has only written one tbt, about his friend's band. Brought to you by Hypocrites-R-Us. /guilt

August 30th 2006


The single was a good song, but i doubt this is a classic. Maybe good but not 5/5, but okay review.

September 6th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

no way is this 5/5, maybe 3.5/5 at best.

September 6th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Absolutely incredible record, definitely their best.

September 6th 2008


I liked a few songs by them, I'll check this out. Their Christian feeling always turned me away a little.

September 6th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"We are Christians by faith, not by genre"

-Jon Foreman

His lyrics on this album go well beyond Christianity.

September 6th 2008


Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, this is their best album, although for sentimental reasons I think The Beautiful Letdown is always going to be my favorite Switchfoot record.

November 20th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5

This is an incredible album, no doubt. I gave it a 4.5 myself. Switchfoot has always been a hit-and-miss band to me: their albums would have 3-5 really good and innovative songs, but they were always mixed with some really annoying and/or bland songs. Not this album though. Like you said, it is very cohesive, yet each of the songs brings its own merit to the table. Also by far some of the best lyrics i've ever read, "Christian" band or not.

My personal favorite would be Politicians though. if you read the lyrics closely, and kinda read in between the lines, they're the deepest on the album. It's actually talking about Heaven in the chorus. Anyway, for anyone who liked Meant To Live, get Politicians and i guarantee you won't be disappointed. This Message Edited On 11.20.08

November 20th 2008


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

My personal favorite would be Politicians though. if you read the lyrics closely, and kinda read in between the lines, they're the deepest on the album. It's actually talking about Heaven in the chorus.

Whilst I can see where you're coming from, I see Politicians as very anarchic and breaking down what is wrong with the world and professing against the powers that be.

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