After Nirvana’s commercial success with their sophomore album, Nevermind, the band took a decidedly different approach with their follow up, In Utero. Instead of sticking to the polished sound that catapulted them into the limelight, the grunge went for a more abrasive sound. While it only sold half the numbers of its predecessor, it still went 4x platinum and has a soft spot in the heart of many musicians. Though Switchfoot is a completely different band, I feel the same can be said for their album Nothing is Sound.
Despite having been around for years The Beautiful Letdown brought commercial success. Songs like “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move” attracted the attention of the masses. While The Beautiful Letdown might be their most popular album I would argue Nothing is Sound is their best. They could even be seen as two sides to the same coin. If The Beautiful Letdown is the encouraging, motivational friend trying to help you overcome your problems with laughter, Nothing is Sound is the friend who cries with you as your tears soak their shirt. Not only is it less radio-friendly, it is also thematically darker. This record addresses existential as well as social issues such as loneliness, the commercialization of sex, and the meaning of life. Jon Foreman is a smart dude with a gigantic heart for God and the world and it shows in his music, more specifically his lyrics.
But even on a lyrical front, while they’re a Christian band, their music doesn’t explicitly mention God. Not because they’re ashamed – in fact, a good portion of their songs could act as prayers or reflections on what he’s teaching them. But because their faith is the lens from which they view the world. It’s in that area they’ve been most influential to my music, as I’ve struggled to figure out what to talk about since becoming a Christian.
Out of all of Switchfoot’s albums this one’s my favorite. Sonically, it feels less about the production and more about the music itself. They’re not afraid to up the ante and they’re not afraid to scale it down. Plus, between the artwork and overall tone of the record, it reminds me of night.