Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Music Review -- Switchfoot, Oh! Gravity.

I've really enjoyed Switchfoot's last few releases, and Oh! Gravity., their latest, is no exception. This album has its fair share of rock in the vein of their last two, but the band also explores some new sonic territory in places, such as the bluesy-country "Dirty Second Hands" and the rollicking "Amateur Lovers." But not only are Switchfoot quite proficient at tightly-executed pop-rock, they also have a fair amount of lyrical depth. Songwriter Jon Foreman has a pretty keen grasp of the human condition, and Oh! Gravity. employs the recurring theme of dissatisfaction. Throughout the album, Foreman aptly channels a sense of restless discontent, whether with materialism ("American Dream," et al), with relationships ("Amateur Lovers"), or with the repetitiveness of life ("Circles") and its seeming lack of purpose ("Burn Out Bright"). Some reviewers have mentioned that the album actually over-employs this theme, although not heavy-handedly. I think this is a valid criticism, but Foreman mitigates the repetition by finding interesting ways to communicate the message, such as in "Faust, Midas, and Myself" (one of my favorites from the album).

Of course, the album doesn't just highlight discontent and leave the audience hanging without resolution. Although Switchfoot doesn't get "preachy," they manage to tie their Christian faith back into the issues they raise. As the answer to the disappointments of life, Foreman sings (on "Head Over Heels (In This Life)"):
In this life, you’re the one place I call home
In this life, you’re the feeling I belong
In this life, you’re the flower and the thorn
You’re everything that’s fair in love and war
And although it isn't technically part of the album, my copy ends with the bonus track "C'mon, C'mon," which exclaims:
We will rise with the wings of the dawn
When everything's new
Although Oh! Gravity. doesn't overtly point listeners to the ultimate meaning found in Christ, Switchfoot does a great job of raising important questions about life, questioning many of the prevailing notions held by our culture. And they certainly rock whilst doing it.

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