Longtime fans of Switchfoot are no doubt aware that these five guys from San Diego love surfing at least as much as—or maybe even more than—cranking out their signature brand of hope-drenched, faith-infused rock. So much so, in fact, that 2012 found the band filming a movie titled Fading West (released online in December 2013) as they toured the world’s surfing sanctuaries. Hot on the heels of that rock’n’surfumentary comes Switchfoot’s ninth album, which also does double duty as the movie’s soundtrack.
Compared to the visceral, fuzzed-out ferocity of the band’s last two rock-flavored efforts (2009’s Hello Hurricane and 2011’s Vice Verses), Fading West slips and slides across the sonic waves in some different ways. The group hasn’t tossed guitars and amps overboard, mind you, but the frequent presence of synthesizers and drum loops lend Fading West a different, decidedly poppier feel than anything Switchfoot’s done recently. That’s cool. (Or rad, or gnarly, or whatever it is the surfer kids are saying these days.) But even better is the fact that the sound is still in the service of songs that grapple earnestly and faithfully with life’s inevitable complexities and conundrums.
Switchfoot isn’t switching. Recent fans might think they’ve gone goofy on this disc, but nine albums and 15 years into their musical journey together, these five soul surfers continue to offer honest, earnest and yearning-filled observations about the messy-but-beautiful nature of life on earth. Here, hope and despair collide, sometimes shockingly so. Sometimes it seems it’s all we can do just to collect the broken shards and fragments of our lives. But even in these moments, Foreman and Co. insist that love and faith remain the right responses in moments of doubt and despair.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.