I’ve never been in a band (even though I always thought that sounded pretty cool). But I’d imagine after making music with the same five people for 25 years, it might get a bit stale. Just play the hits. Do the obligatory club tour. Sell some merch. Rinse. Repeat.
Not Switchfoot. Two-and-a-half decades into their career, this group of five Christian musicians from the San Diego area continues to press outward, creating music that sounds like Switchfoot, but which also sounds like a band that’s not content to rest on its laurels.
The latest evidence? “Fluorescence,” the second single from the group’s latest album, interrobang. In this retrospective love song, a man reflects on the early, heady days of a romance between two young people who, it would seem, go on to forge a lifelong connection.
The overarching thematic metaphor in the song is that of a moth being drawn to the light, an image that’s set up on the song’s opening lines: “I am the moth beating his wings against the dusty window/Outside of your dull, fluorescent light.”
From there, this at times dissonant, at times melodic alt-rock track pulsates with energy and vibrancy as frontman Jon Foreman and Co. craft a poetic look back at young love.
There’s little in this track that’s overtly negative … or overtly positive, really. Instead, we’re invited into a narrative about young love that offers hints of perspective that only time and age can bring.
Foreman characterizes the relationship as one of passionate impatience (perhaps ever so subtly hinting at a desire for its consummation that hasn’t happened yet): “How long, my fluorescent favorite?/How long ’til you are mine?/Today, tonight? Today, tonight?”
Looking back, Foreman clearly see’s the couple’s individual weaknesses: “‘You’re not that bright, I’m not that strong.’” He also notes, “Ours is a desperate song.”
Again, there’s nothing that’s absolutely positive here. But listening to the song, you can’t help but get the sense of an older man observing realities that he was likely blind to as a younger man.
There’s nothing explicit or even obviously suggestive here. That said, one could read some of the “desperate” longing hinted at into lines like these: “Your light might not be all that bright/But in the dark, it feels so strong.” Then again, Foreman could also simply be suggesting that when you’re “flying” in the darkness, any kind of light feels strongly attractive.
The song never really turns a clear redemptive corner. Instead, we’re simply given a snapshot of love and youth in which desire seemed to be the strongest thing either of these kids could feel.
It could be argued that song lyrics are, when removed from their musical accompaniment, really just a form of poetry. That said, some lyrics seem more poetic than others.
The lines in “fluorescence” fit well into that latter category. Jon Foreman and his band have painted a picture of the urgency—and the surrounding darkness—of young love, a snapshot of a season full of desperate yearning and not much else.
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.