A couple of years ago they played a free concert in
I also remember the debacle around the release of Nothing is Sound, in which Sony put out their album with a copy protection thing on it that meant that you couldn’t play it on itunes or rip it to your computer without using their special software. Yeah, it was a pain and so I didn’t listen to Meredith’s copy much. I was more interested in the fallout as a business and technological issue than the music. All in all, Switchfoot was firmly in the "I won't turn them off but I probably won't buy them" category for quite some time.
So, for some reason, when their latest album, Oh! Gravity, came out and I saw it on sale right after Christmas, I bought it. I really don't know why. I think I figured that most of my kids would want to hear it and I knew I had more money then they did so I did it to be a nice dad. I also like to support Christians who are working effectively the in the mainstream so I just bought it on a whim. And you know what? It has stayed in my CD player almost continuously ever since.
When I get a new album I won’t listen much if the music doesn’t move me so there is sometimes a pretty short window for an album to get seriously listened to. In this case, the music did move me. I found the melodies and the arrangements on Oh! Gravity to be interesting and compelling. They players aren’t virtuosi but they do well enough for the genre and the dorky piano break about a minute into the first song oozes fun and creativity.
The lyrical themes on this album follow the same lines as previous Switchfoot albums in that they tend to be somewhat dark, focusing on a sense of emptiness. You get the feeling that Foreman is trying to tap into the malaise that his generation feels without feeling the need to point to Christ as the answer in every song. In fact, there is no explicitly Christian content – at least that I have found so far. Of course, it is not always clear what Jon Foreman is referring to in his lyrics but most of the time I’m just bopping my head and enjoying the groove. Occasionally, though, the lyrics jump out at me, as in the opening to “American Dream”:
When success is equated with excess
The ambition for excess wrecks us
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line
When success is equated with excess.
There is some fun wordplay here and it’s hard to miss his point. Other songs aren’t quite so clear. For example, in “Amateur Lovers,” when he sings
We don't know what we're doing
We do it again
We're just amateur lovers
With amateur friends
we aren’t really sure whether this is a good thing or not. I don’t want to complain too much, though, because I have really enjoyed this album. I also really appreciate that Foreman and the rest of the band let their Christian perspective show through in their music, even if it’s not explicit. Oh! Gravity is not Great Art but it is a pretty cool album that I continue to enjoy.