Start a band, become successful, travel the world making a documentary, write an album about it. Switchfoot has thus far has lived out this unimaginable dream. Their newest album Fading West has one key theme: the world is a big place; explore it.
After releasing their eighth studio album in 2012, the band decided travel the world to make a surfing documentary. “Switchfoot” is a surfing term after all. What the movie turned into, however, was an eye-opening film about the cultures of many different nations. Of course the band did more than make a movie in their off time; the songs they wrote during this time were recorded and now make up the album that is Fading West.
Lyrics on the album reflect that of a wise holder of the pen, someone who has seen the beauty and heartache of the world all in one context. “What you say is your religion/ How you say it is your religion/ Who you love is your religion/ How you love is your religion/ All your science, your religion/ All your hatred, your religion/ All your wars are your religion/ Every breath is your religion.” These words from “The World You Want” flow so effortlessly, showing that peace in the world comes from simple tolerance. Lines like these are especially important when they come from a Christian band like Switchfoot, who cannot in any way be seen as close-minded like many bands of a similar denomination.
While the same honest and heartfelt lyrics remain the same here as on any other Switchfoot album, the music itself is a change for the band. Although they have always been versatile in the style of music they play, Switchfoot still usually manages to ramp up a few heavy tunes; a more laid-back approach is prevalent throughout Fading West though. Synth sounds are a key to the album’s flow, as can be heard in the opening track “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight”. The band seems to capture the modern indie sound although they do not shy away from some classic rock n’ roll-style guitar. For songs like “Who We Are” and “Say It Like You Mean It”, imagine The Black Keys mixed with Grouplove and a touch of Mumford and Sons. That might not sound like a good combo but it works, trust me.
One of my personal favorites from Fading West is the song titled “BA55”, and yes, those are 5’s. What makes this song so compelling is its complicated yet grooving bass line. As to why they didn’t just call the song ‘bass’ I can’t say. I guess maybe because the title wouldn’t stand out as much. Nonetheless, the song is very mystical and gives you the overall feeling of being in outer space. And if that doesn’t sound exciting to you, you might want to reevaluate your life.
On a more serious note, another favorite would have to be “When We Come Alive”. The song’s theme is just that – people “coming alive” and their passion being their reason for living. What a beautiful truth.
All in all, Fading West is an extraordinary album that will have you feeling anything but empty. I also highly recommend seeing the film of the same name. For fans of the heavier Switchfoot, this album may take a couple of listens before you really get into it, but it’s worth the time.