Lots of people surely used the coronavirus pandemic to redefine themselves, make changes in their lives or find new meaning.
This, of course, filters into their working life proven, perhaps, by the various headlines in the last year indicating people changing jobs or simply quitting and looking for something new in their chosen field. Switchfoot apparently picked the latter for their 12th album interrobang, out today, an 11-song record that sounds almost like the debut album of a new band with either flashes of talent that simply needs a bit of direction and focus or misunderstood genius.
Switchfoot indeed makes a complete departure musically with interrobang (stylized in all lowercase as are the song titles) recorded, according to the band, in a burst of pent-up mid-pandemic creativity throughout last year and into 2021. Said singer Jon Foreman, “More than ever, we want our music to be a bridge, reaching out with melody and lyrics to sing an honest song for anyone who’s got ears to hear. interrobang is an album that celebrates the journey, even when the arrival is unsure. interrobang is the sound of joy and pain, faith and doubt against the backdrop of the strangest, most difficult year we’ve ever experienced.”
Switchfoot interrobang Album Review
Mellow and sometimes dreamy, bordering on gloom, interrobang barely contains one song that radiates the high-energy rock that serve as the backdrop of all their other albums. Drew Shirley’s guitar solos take a backseat to Jerome Fontamilla’s synthesizers while Switchfoot embraces a mostly modern, contemporary rock sound similar to The War on Drugs.
The melodic quicker-paced arrangements of “lost cause,” “if I were you,” and “the hard way” stand out above the rest on interrobang. Switchfoot generally includes at least one emotional tugger on their albums, a welcome trend continued on interrobang, but “the bones of us” sounds like a repurposed “I Won’t Let You Go” off 2016’s Where the Light Shines Through and hardly rising to that song’s level. However, “backwards in time” has the inner workings of an eventual classic in both music and lyrics.
The Milky Chance sounding “i need you (to be wrong)” and similarly arranged “fluorescent,” both annoyingly catchy like a Gwen Stefani song, were two of three preview singles released earlier this year that ultimately served as fair warning to expect different. The dominate keyboards for “splinter” come across like an attempt at adding previously untapped depth to an otherwise straight forward indie rock song that results in some psychedelia. Meanwhile, “wolves” takes a deep dive into the musical abyss. A haunting affair using strings to accompany a deadpan melody for a track you may or may not find interesting.
Album opener “beloved” and closer “electricity” ultimately serve as bookends for interrobang neither sounding like Switchfoot but each with a delicate grip on the band’s last 20 years which pretty much sums up the album as a whole.
Switchfoot experiments profusely on interrobang restraining their past sound to mere glimpses before cutting off and dropping in something different. Perceptive ears might also catch a Beatles influence and a few sounds from the 80s. Expect a long sit down for interrobang but for some it may never take root which might explain the question mark (or interrobang) on the album cover, as if to say, “Do you like it?!”
Switchfoot Interrobang Songs:
- lost cause
- if i were you
- the bones of us
- i need you (to be wrong)
- the hard way