In all my poking around and listening to music over the past few years, I still have yet to find a rock band I like more than Switchfoot. They’ve been my favorite band since I started listening to music; in fact, they’re the band that got me into music in the first place, especially due of their thought-provoking songwriting and well-executed variety of sounds. So whenever they have anything new come out, I’m practically beside myself with excitement, and they have yet to disappoint me. Over the past year, the band filmed a movie called Fading West that follows them on their world tour as they played shows and hit incredible surf spots. Over the course of these events, the band sought (and, evidently, found) inspiration for their next record, also called Fading West, and this EP is the first sampling of music we’ve been given from the forthcoming record slated for release in January. If this short EP is any indicator, then we are indeed in for a real treat come 2014.
The EP kicks off with my personal favorite song of the bunch, “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight.” This song is definitely the strongest showcase of Jon Foreman’s signature, deep songwriting on the EP; however, it still boasts a distinct sonic palette much unlike anything else the band has recorded before with more pop/electronic elements than usual. Thankfully, the band pulls off this style with excellence and the pop sounds never compromise their musical integrity. “Who We Are,” the album’s lead single, will surprise longtime listeners with its somewhat indie vibe and irresistibly catchy chorus. The songwriting is a little simpler than fans have probably come to expect from a Switchfoot song, but that doesn’t keep it from being a fantastic anthem about the band’s identity, especially with lines like, “We were just kids / Just limited, misfit, itinerant / Outcasts singing ’bout the dissonance.”
If “Who We Are” catches you off guard, though, just wait until you hear the next song, “BA 55.” It’s taken some time to grow on me, but as I’ve kept listening and learning to appreciate the killer bass lines and overall epic and driving force behind the song, I’ve come to appreciate it a lot (especially after seeing them perform it live). This song more than any other in the set indicates the band still has plenty of surprises up their sleeves, which is always encouraging. Physical copies of the EP sold at shows and on the band’s website also include the b-side “Fading West.” It may come off as strange that the title track is in fact a b-side and will not appear on the full album, however, it’s immediately apparent that the song doesn’t really fit with the others. I’m glad they still released the song, though, because what it lacks in depth it makes up for in fun, and there’s a certain nostalgic feel to it as Jon sings about his home on the west coast.
Given its nature as a preview EP, Fading West EP is short and leaves you wanting. Then again, I suppose that is what these releases are for. I heartily recommend all of these songs, and I can’t wait to hear the complete product come January!
Standout Tracks: “Love Alone Is Worth the Fight,” “Who We Are”