Release Date: Jan 14, 2014
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Grunge, Contemporary Christian, Religious, CCM, Alternative CCM
San Diego's Switchfoot made a splash in the early and mid-2000s with such hit singles as "Dare You to Move" and "Stars." Those songs showcased Switchfoot's anthemic, passionate guitar-based rock sound and helped secure their position as one of the most successful Christian rock bands on the secular pop scene. Since then, Switchfoot have released several albums that found them experimenting with various pop sounds that moved them away from the straightforward punk-influenced rock of their earlier work. Switchfoot's ninth studio album, 2014's Fading West, continues in this varied creative direction with a batch of songs inspired by the band's love of surfing.
Switchfoot's Fading West doubles as the soundtrack to the San Diego alt-rock outfit's identically titled documentary, which charts the band's globe-trotting surfing exploits, which at least partly explains the album's marked departure from the guitar-led stadium rock of their previous efforts. The album instead opts for chill synthesizers and buzzy basslines, an attempt at the kind of summery radio pop the retro-cool kids are making these days. Much of Fading West, which tentatively dips its toes in the waters of electronica, world music, and psychedelic pop, comes on like a self-conscious attempt to diversify Switchfoot's oeuvre, but it consistently drowns any glimpses of innovation in reverb, ocean metaphors, “whoa-oh” choruses, and a children's choir.
Criticizing San Diego CCM stars Switchfoot for releasing another album of polished, lyrically/spiritually uplifting modern pop is like lambasting Chuck Berry for playing rock and roll; it’s just what they do. So it’s no surprise that the Grammy winning, platinum selling act’s ninth effort, a soundtrack of sorts to an identically titled documentary on the group and their love of surfing, hews closely to what is now an established formula. The five-piece crossed over commercially a decade ago when 2003’s The Beautiful Letdown quickly made them stars of their genre; i.e.