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Switchfoot extended play incorporates human condition

I remember when I first started listening to Switchfoot. I must have been ten or eleven at the time, and I possessed no more understanding of popular music than an Amish child. See, my parents (rightfully) disapproved of secular music due to its often immoral and suggestive themes, so for much of my childhood I listened chiefly to Christian contemporary or praise songs. As I entered the awkward stages of early puberty, however, they began to allow a greater variety in what I could listen to, and my horizons broadened quite a bit.

I quickly began enjoying artists with Christian ties who nonetheless practiced their craft in a more modern, liberal and “free-spirited” way in comparison to the typical “Christian” band. I listened to such artists as Skillet, Pillar, Red and, of course, Switchfoot. They were, in a sense, the gateway between my childhood of social ignorance and my more enlightened, current cultural understanding.

In other words, Switchfoot helped open my eyes to the big world of the musical art. That is one of the great accomplishments of this incredible band: they stay true to their Christian values while offering positive, entertaining and thought-provoking music to the general public.

The band just recently excited public opinion with the release of a three-song extended play (EP) for their upcoming album Fading West. The three new songs, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight,” “Who We Are” and “BA55” are, for the most part, very much in consistency with the Switchfoot we all know and love. They all feature the typical upbeat tempo and lyrics that we expect from them coupled with the familiar vocals of lead singer Jon Foreman.

The lyrics, though simple, present a deeply poetic representation of the human condition as the band promotes basic themes such as love, youthful innocence, hope and unified togetherness. This band, like always, brings solid music, solid vocals and all with a rock solid meaning behind their words. Few bands exercise such overall mastery.

My favorite song on the EP was certainly “BA55”. Though it was slower than the other two, its poetically haunting lyrics and different sound set it apart from any other songs that I have heard from them thus far. The most compelling part of the song is during the bridge section when the vocalist repeats again and again the words: “I believe that you?re the fire that could burn me clean.”

Something in those words emanates a deeply primitive desire to see God change things from within. That’s what I took away from it, anyway. The piece as a whole deals with the innate desire within all humans to find that one thing that “lets our soul fly” and frees us from the restraints of mortality. It is a beautiful concept.

I also enjoyed “Who We Are.” This song, which is more upbeat than BA55, deals with the theme of innocence within children and the passage from this innocence into a life of significance and determination. The third melody explicates this theme quite wonderfully as it reads: “They said it’s complicated / They said we’d never make it this far / But we are / They said the fight would break us / But the struggle helped to make/ Who we are.”

The only song I disliked on the EP was “Love Alone is Worth the Fight.” I disliked it for a couple reasons: one being the fact that it sounded like the generic Christian contemporary “lets-put-a-ton-of-feel-good-words-into-this-song” type of song.

Forgive my hyphen overuse, but I know of no other way to express my distaste for the corniness of the song. Also, something in it exuded the essence of mass-produced, lyrically shallow types of songs that pervade both secular and Christian radio stations. Don?t get me wrong, I enjoy uplifting songs with uplifting messages, but only if they are good. Songs like ?Love Alone is Worth the Fight? do not make me happy: they just seem fake, distant to reality, and boring. I just could not connect with the song.

Overall, however, I enjoyed the EP very much. I will undoubtedly look in to the new album, Fading West, when it comes out Jan 14, 2014. I’m also excited about Switchfoot’s original movie with the same name. Fading West, the documentary, portraits some of the touring and surfing destination the band vistited in the past. It officially premiered Sept. 20, 2013, and will be available to purchase, Dec. 10.

Switchfoot makes good music, and good music is hard to come by. I hope that the other songs on the album give us more of the wild rock side of the band that we already know, while also giving us a deeper insight into the world from their perspective. Because in the end, that is art: the expression of one?s point of view, one?s experiences, and one?s understanding of the human heart.

Somehow Switchfoot, with their rough edged music and uncomplicated lyrics, finds a way to, time and time again, pierce the barrier of artistic mediocrity and enter the hearts and minds of their listeners. This is what has made them great, and this is what continues to empower them to success.

Fading West can be purchased on iTunes for about $2.97.

To purchase the EP visit their website.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @JohnathanNyberg. Follow The Feather via Twitter: @thefeather.

For more reviews, read the Nov. 14 article, Film entertains with witty dialogue, action.

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