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Track Review

After a brief hiatus beginning in 2017, Switchfoot has returned with a new single, "Native Tongue." This title track from the San Diego alt-rock quintet's forthcoming album delivers strong, raspy vocals; pulsing drums; and a bass-bending beat that sounds contemporary and classic all at once. And lyrically, "Native Tongue" reminds listeners of the purpose of their existence: to love others.

Created for Love

We have been created for love, but we often forget.

And on this song, Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman reminds us of that truth, asking us to speak love from the depths of who we are: “Sing to me, baby, in your native tongue," he begins, then encourages “the wise and the young” to remember that “love’s the language/love’s your native tongue.”

We’re to let love become a part of who we are, the band sings, something that saturates every fiber of our being: “Feel your heartbeat bang the drum/Open up your eyes and fill your lungs” and allow “the same word from where the stars are flung” to take hold.

But oftentimes we get it confused: "My head (my head) in oblivion/My soul (my soul) such a long way from/My lips, my lungs, my native tongue." Foreman and Co. then ask, "My friend, where did we go wrong?" And the band confesses those missteps to God, singing, “My Lord (my Lord), we forgot our sound.”

Foreman alludes to two influences with regard to our ability to love others well: God and the devil. “Sing it to me, whisper into my ear," he says of God's voice. And when we hear that divine voice, the voice of love, then the “accuser’s voices start to disappear.” As we listen to God's voice, His truth permeates our inner being: "In the wind, in the tongues of flame/In my soul, in my one true name, oh.”

Finally, Switchfoot tells us that we’re meant to love “louder than the voices in the crowd,” and that we may need to go “back before we learned the words to start a fight/Back before they told us that their haters were right" in order re-embrace the truth that "love's the language, love's your native tongue."

From Darkness …

Shot completely in black and white, the video for "Native Tongue" feels reminiscent of something Jack White might have influenced, stylistically. It features each member of Switchfoot front and center playing their instruments while focusing, primarily, on Jon Foreman.

However, when the camera is not on the guys, it shows compiled images of men, women and children pieced together, singing the lyrics in unison. The collage communicates unity, as people from all different walks of life are brought together to call upon love as their unifying and uniting force.

At the end, Foreman lies on the ground, slowly spinning as images of buildings, flowers and closed fists swirl below him. As he sings about his desire for the world to return to love and, therefore, to God, each fist uncurls to show open palms. These images seem to represent the power of love to penetrate and tear down defenses, as well as representing hands ready to receive God as love.

... to Light

This may seem like a cliché, but we need love, especially in our culturally turbulent times. Love does not mean excusing every action and calling all things excellent. But it does require treating others with kindness and dignity, despite differences.

Switchfoot has always expressed love so well through its songs. Jon Foreman and his band often sing about their Creator, about the One they know as close as a friend. And this song is no different. Switchfoot once again reminds of us the importance of our words, which can either impede and wound others, or reflect the healing love of God.

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Record Label

Fantasy Records




October 19, 2018

On Video

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Kristin Smith

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