First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2007, Volume 14, #3
Written by Melissa Stroh
Switchfoot has no problem making epic-sounding songs with big hooks and even bigger statements, but although its new album Oh! Gravity contains a cohesive flow, itís too similar to the bandís other endeavors for its own good. Considering that its previous effort The Beautiful Letdown brought it an influx of fans and received critical acclaim all over the world, itís hard to blame the group for repeating itself. Who wouldnít want to replicate that? Instead of sounding original, though, Oh! Gravity sounds forced and contrived.
Right from the start, with the fast-paced, head-bob-inducing title track, it begins by traversing familiar terrain. Although thereís little doubt that lead singer Jon Foreman can craft a good storyline and sing well, most of these songs sound like b-side companions to The Beautiful Letdown. Still, the first half of Oh! Gravity is catchy as hell. Tracks like the rebellious American Dream and the gospel-infused The Awakening hold their own. Yet, people can only stand to hear the "I was meant for something better" and the "youth is in pain" speeches so many times. By now, everyone is aware that there are problems in the world, but no one wants to be beaten over the head with the message quite so bluntly as this. Music is supposed to provide a release, and Oh! Gravity simply brings the listener down. Most of the tunes deal with sin as well as the need to awaken to its presence, but Switchfoot is so heavy-handed with its angst that the outing becomes rather unappealing.
Nevertheless, those inclined to give Oh! Gravity a chance will find a few gems buried within it. Head over Heels (In this Life) serves a dual-purpose of being a tribute either to a loved one or to God. Foreman crafts a beautiful chorus that everyone can relate to, whether itís taken to be about a boyfriend, a girlfriend, or a higher being. The song flows well with the bandís typically dramatic blend of drums and guitars, which lead to a silence that Foreman fills with poignant lyrics. Another highlight is the radio-friendly Burn Out Bright. Though it predictably falls back on familiar themes, Switchfoot still manages to make it work as Foreman uses his raspy voice to scream his wishes for life over the songís fast-paced, distorted guitars and punching drums.
In the end, though, there isnít a deep enough contrast from Switchfootís previous albums to cause Oh! Gravity to leave any kind of lasting imprint. The world is full of pain, but few people really want to hear about it relentlessly for 45 minutes.
Oh! Gravity is available from Barnes & Noble.
To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box