26 January 2014

Switchfoot - Fading West

In the 1960s, the US Navy ran a recruitment campaign. "The Beach Boys, apple pie and the '67 Mustang. Three things worth fighting for." The former certainly is a basis of inspiration for this act from San Diego, and certainly from the same state as their predecessors and, I'm guessing at this early stage, their heroes. You only have to have a quick glance at the album cover to see the rolling sand dunes and odd surfboard to gauge an idea of what Switchfoot is all about. And apparently the name is taken from a surfing term to change the footing on the board, while their wholesome persona is a hint of the "apple pie" image. Suffice to say their earlier roots were of Christian Rock although these days, the Californian quintet seem a little uncomfortable over this thought.

Now as with many of you reading this, I'm not a bona fide practising Christian, but I will admit that on the odd occasion I do get a little cross when one or two devout individuals try to carpet bomb me with messages of praise and good hope. That I lament to say won't wash with me, nor doesn't suggest a measure of tolerance and respect for other creeds and beliefs. And while I'm not sore or dour on this slightly difficult subject, I do pause for thought every day and try to put into perspective what life's all about in a solemn manner yet I sometimes feel a bit of pent up rage inside me every now and then, hence the odd '67 Mustang urge if you like.

Switchfoot are another dreamy act from the Golden State formed about the mid 1990s and have 8 albums of alternative rock to their discography. This one, number nine already has had a brace of singles released several months earlier in Who We Are, and Love Alone Is Worth The Fight. The former track has some piano work at the forefront, with a child choral group providing backup in the choruses. It's ok I guess if a tad dream pop and rather diluted if you get my meaning. Perhaps overused piano work is one example, but Love Alone however I do enjoy, uplifting if not too sugary and a few echoing snippets in the chorus does give it a firm resonating backup. However, the theme does continue and maybe a bit laboured in the following song When We Come Alive, but Say It Like You Mean It runs on Kasabian's Clubfoot beat with some slight distorted guitars and vocals to match in the bridges, bit grungey and more to my own taste but it's the introductory bass that makes me sold on it.

BA55 is a big yay too from me, it's got a good heavy beat and doesn't feel retro at all. The synth fused guitars are certainly a refreshing break, while Let It Out is for me a reasonable filler but I'm not too keen on the harmonies even if it is well arranged. Just a shame that they choose to sing One Direction-ish chorus, thery are a bit embarrassing although they might obtain some new teeny bopper fans. Moving towards the closing part of Fading West now, and Saltwater Heart has a well paced feel of rhythm and the final track Back To The Beginning Again I guess is not the most memorable here especially with the repetition in the final lines.

First time I've heard Switchfoot and this is a reasonable act here. Overindulgence is usually the downfall of many an act and it looks like this Californian fivesome is almost guilty of dropping a real clanger here. As a whole, the offering has a few rare gems but as for the rest of it, well, I guess ok. But that's where the problem lies, it's ok. And not spectacular either, it's easy to imagine playing this on your car stereo on the Pan American Highway with the Pacific Ocean as a marvellous backdrop. But some songs do stick while others just don't have the adhesion to stay on your mind long enough.

6.5 - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.
Best track - BA55

Switchfoot Official Website on this link
Listen to Fading West here on Spotify
Buy the album or MP3 format here on Amazon

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