Switchfoot - Fading West EP

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Artist: Switchfoot
Title: Fading West EP
Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: 9/17/13
Reviewer: Ian Zandi

Tracklisting:

  1. Who We Are
  2. Love Alone is Worth the Fight
  3. Ba55
  4. Fading West (Physical edition only)

Reviewer’s note: The first time this was published, I only had access to the first 3 songs on this EP. However, I was able to contact Switchfoot PR and get access to a review copy containing the bonus track “Fading West”. This review has been amended to reflect that song’s inclusion. Enjoy and stay tuned for a review of the full album in January!

 

 

 “One, two, three, four, five. One, two, three, four, five.”

This sets the beat for the first song (and single) “Who We Are” made by the San Diego surfers known as Switchfoot. I believe it is best possible track they could have picked to be the start of the Fading West EP. Though I haven’t seen the film yet, it appears to be about Switchfoot as a band of artists, humans, and surfers. Since the film pretty much a well-made biography about the band, this single essentially comes off as the theme song of the movie.

“We were just kids
Just limited, misfit, itinerant
Outcasts singing ‘bout the dissonance

We were just kids, wide-open
Like a child, eyes open,
Like a child, unbroken
by the wheels gone by

We know

Who we are”

The song also features the lyrics of lead singer Jon Foreman shadowed by a child choir (sort of like Know Hope Collective’s “Build Us Back”. Jon sounds cleaner than ever before as his grizzly bear vocals are nowhere to be found. Musically, the song is very spacious. I would compare the atmosphere of the EP itself to the likes of Coldplay, Bon Iver and Arcade Fire. This is not to say that Switchfoot sounds like those bands. They don’t really. It is more of the feeling of the music. It evokes emotions, it is relaxing, engaging, and it’s encouraging. “Who We Are” may not be my favorite Switchfoot song but it is very fitting.

Prominently featured in the Fading West trailer, the repeating background vocals of “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” give this song it’s signature sound. The lyrics in this track are classic Switchfoot.

”I’m trying to find where my place is, I’m looking for my own oasis

So close I can taste this, the fear that love alone erases

so I’m back to the basics, figure it’s time I face this

time to take my own advice, love alone is worth the fight”

The themes of searching for the meaning in life, wanting to be so much more, and finding their answer in love are ideals that are spread across the band’s entire discography.

Though “Ba55” is the longest track on the EP, it has the least amount of lyrics. It may not be as radio-friendly as “Who We Are” and “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” but it is definitely the stand out track on this EP. Here, on my personal favorite track, we are treated with long bass riffs, the gritty Jon Foreman vocals that we all know and love, zooming synth, gang vocals (chanting), as well as guitar parts that are unconventionally used. It perfectly feels like the next progression from Vice Verses.  If people thought that “Selling the News” was the furthest that Switchfoot would ever venture into the deep ocean of musical possibilities, they were wrong. “Ba55” has set the new standard and I am certain that another Switchfoot-penned song will surpass it someday.

“Fading West” is a bonus track that can only be found on physical copies of the EP on their upcoming tour. This title track sounds like it is stuck between the eras of the experimental Oh! Gravity and the classic Hello Hurricane. I adore the diversity that this track adds to the EP. In fact, it is a bit reminiscent of The Beatles’ Revolver. Lyrically, the song’s theme revolve around the desire to return home. In this case, the Switchfoot boys are longing to journey back to their homes in San Diego. I suppose in that way, this song could be a prequel to their Narnia song “This Is Home”. While “Who We Are” is probably more radio-friendly, this song could have still made an excellent “theme song”. If you can track down a physical copy of the EP, do it.

It’s worth it. 

Overall: Fading West is not the end of Switchfoot. Instead, it is the opening of the next chapter in their globetrotting journey to pursue love and justice. The Fading West EP may not be the best Switchfoot songs ever written. Do they necessarily have to be? Maybe the best is yet to come on the full-length album. This EP is merely just a sample of what we can expect to hear in the movie and on the soundtrack. We were given a theme song, a classic Switchfoot song, the next possible step in their musical endeavors, and a Beatle-esque tune. All of these songs combined create an EP that will surely be played on remembered in our hearts and on our radios.

RIYL: Mutemath, Little Hurricane, The Black Keys, Arcade Fire, The Beatles