The Chimes

Switchfoot lets loose in latest album

The San Diego-based quintet offers encouragement and consolation in newest release, ‘Native Tongue.’

Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Less than a week ago, alternative rock band Switchfoot released their 11th studio album, “Native Tongue.” The 14-track project unleashes Switchfoot’s dedication to pursue joy above everything else.

“Joy is an incredible motivator, it’s only to be found in the moment, not in the past or future,” said frontman Jon Foreman. “That’s what music is to us: the ever-present joy of the ever-present now.”

Through collaborations with Kaela Sinclair of dream-pop group M83 and Brent Kutzle of pop- rock band OneRepublic, Switchfoot channels diversity throughout the album. Although the band’s original sound wavers, new blends of genres rise to the surface.

EARLY ENCOURAGEMENT

The first two tracks, “Let it Happen” and “Native Tongue,” set the pace and direct the course for the rest of the album. In the former song, twinkling sounds suddenly burst into an aggressive electric guitar that bounces back and forth between Foreman’s raspy vocals. For such a heavy song, its message, the realization that God ultimately holds the future, seems lighter than expected. The latter song sounds more like a play off indie-pop band Fitz and the Tantrums’ “HandClap” with Foreman’s fast-paced sing-talk and constant snap-like beats to pair with the album’s theme of love.

The band takes a step back from aggression and heavy instrumentals with “All I Need,” which begins with easy-going acoustics to prepare for a heartfelt chorus dissecting Foreman’s perspective on love.

“All I need is the air I breathe,” Foreman sings. “The time we share and the ground beneath my feet. All I need is the love that I believe in. Tell me love, do you believe in me?”

AWAY FROM THE NORM

Inspired by a homeless man living at the beach, Foreman wrote “Voices” about the inner dialogue we seem to hear inside our own minds. Through a robotic Foreman and unique string-like electronica, listeners can compare the track to Imagine Dragons’ “Believer.” The following track, “Dig New Streams,” exudes a Beatles sound with its infusion of acoustic plucking and abrupt choruses, which somewhat reflect the Beatles’ “Come Together” and “In My Life.”

By its soft electric guitar similar to James Bay’s “Let It Go,” listeners can only wonder where Switchfoot is headed with “Joy Invincible.” After a techno invasion in the first verse and chorus, the song takes a funky turn with a groovy drumbeat and a falsetto electric guitar flair. The track gives off a perfect example of the band taking fun risks.

The most surprising track of the album must be “The Hardest Art,” with its electro-pop, shoegazing inspired sound. Featuring M83’s very own Kaela Sinclair, Switchfoot steps out of their comfort zone and into the realm of whimsical synths and electronic phasing to support the album’s recurring theme of love.

Starting with steady piano chords and an acoustic guitar, “Wonderful Feeling” adds a sluggish drumbeat after its acoustic introduction to color Foreman’s falsetto vocals. This ninth track even treats listeners with a John Mayer-esque guitar solo to lead into its last chorus.

CLASSIC SWITCHFOOT

Based on the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, Foreman reveals his longing to return to God in “Prodigal Soul.” Probably the most Switchfoot-sounding song in the album, the song displays a harsh acoustic guitar throughout its entirety and Foreman’s impressive range of vocals to top off the final chorus.

The Strength to Let Go” exhibits Foreman’s honest declaration of letting go of the pride he suffers with. Although not a fast-paced track, its switches between a high-pitched acoustic guitar backdrop and a laid-back, yet powerful drumbeat perfectly complements Foreman’s message to surrender everything to God.

UNEXPECTED ENDINGS

The final three tracks of the album each display such a unique message and sound that it is hard to believe that they fall under the same band, let alone album. However, their differences prove Switchfoot has no fear in exploring genres and taking risks.

Oxygen” beautifully fuses an arpeggio of piano chords, a simple drumbeat and falsetto background vocals to exude a euphoric, crossbreed of indie-pop and indie-folk. The following track, “We’re Gonna Be Alright,” reminds listeners that it is okay to make mistakes and be imperfect through cheery ukulele strums and hopeful lyrics. To conclude, Foreman emphasizes his desire for God with a smooth piano melody and deep, symphonic strings in the album’s shortest track, “You’re the One I Want.”

Through the band’s attempts at versatility, Foreman hopes to convey a message of unity through love.

“My hope for this record,” Foreman said. “Is that it would be a reminder that there are new streams available for us to travel down, and that hatred is not our language and love is our native tongue.”

About the Writer
Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

&Kayla Santos is a junior journalism major who loves gooey chocolate chip cookies, traveling to new places, and playing with her dog named Karl.

[email protected]

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Switchfoot lets loose in latest album