Hello Hurricane review by Switchfoot

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  • Released: Nov 10, 2009
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.9 (110 votes)
Switchfoot: Hello Hurricane
4

Sound — 8
After playing by Columbia/Sony BMG Records' rules on their past few albums, the members of Switchfoot have rediscovered creative freedom. Frontman Jon Foreman candidly stated they wanted to start with a clean slate because the last couple of records felt kind of compromised. One can imagine that the record execs wanted an album chock full of radio hits that follow a pretty common format, and while Switchfoot's 7th studio album Hello Hurricane comes close to that ideal, it's obvious that the quintet wanted to get a bit more artsy in the process. There's an underlying pop-rock vibe that is the driving force behind the CD, but Switchfoot still shows off their experimental side in a big way.

Small indications of that experimentation are apparent in a track like Needle and Haystack Life, which immediately introduces a much richer guitar tone that we've heard from the band in the past. While that particular song still sounds like a perfect fit to play over the credits of any random hip TV show, Mess Of Me begins to take the album in a more intriguing direction. If you prefer the edgier, more straight-up rock side to Switchfoot, you'll love Mess Of Me. Starting off with a sonic, distortion-seeped guitar hook, it also features an interesting arrangement in which a cappella vocal lines often trade off with the rest of the instrumentation.

It's very likely that Foreman and his bandmates had a ball playing around with various effects/synth equipment. There's been a quote going around regarding how Hello Hurricane delves deeper into both the band's acoustic and electronic sides. As odd as it sounds, it's an accurate statement. Not every song includes this combo, of course, but the album is full of paradoxes to be sure. A song like Sing It Out is an aural free-for-all, starting out with some eerie Pink Floyd-like crying guitar effects. The bass line is the guiding force underneath Foreman's solemn vocal work (which is also eventually joined by a string section), and you'll even hear a subtle robotic-like vocal line mirroring his lyrics. There's also a lengthy, fairly ghostly instrumental outro that sounds to be primarily synth work.

While Mess Of Me and This Is The Sound are the big rock numbers, the mellower offerings take up the bulk of the album. Enough is just a little too predictable in comparison with the rest of the tracks, but it does score points for its sentimental factor. Your Love Is A Song begins by being a fully electric ballad, but the band quickly strips everything down to only an acoustic and vocals. There are a few transitions of that sort in not only This Is The Sound, but in songs scattered throughout the CD. The acoustic doesn't always take the spotlight on the ballads, however, and you'll notice that Switchfoot became fond of a keyboard effect that produces a chiming effect that you might hear in a nursery rhyme. It's the little details like those which indicate that Switchfoot is truly attempting to think outside of the box.

Lyrics — 7
There's a common theme that runs throughout Hello Hurricane, namely that of self reflection. Whether Foreman expresses, I still believe you can save me from me or the sickness is myselfI made a mess of me, the album probably had a cathartic effect for the singer/songwriter. The main issue is that there is a fair share of the normal/typical rhyming patterns (I've got my back against the wall; I can still hear the blue sky call), and that often becomes distracting. The candid themes relayed, however, allow you to often overlook any predictable rhymes that show up on the record.

Overall Impression — 8
Recalling Switchfoot's big hits from The Beautiful Letdown (Meant To Live and Dare You To Move), there does seem to be creative growth for the San Diego natives. While it's fascinating to hear what effects, drum tracks, sampling are chosen (and where they are placed), it's just as satisfying to hear a dirty riff show up in the middle of Hello Hurricane. Somehow with all of the experimentation, Switchfoot still manages to sound commercially acceptable. The band didn't necessarily play by a major label's rules this time around, it would still be no surprise if a number of Hello Hurricane's tracks find Billboard success.

40 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Natrone
    Just like Relient K, now that they got away from Capitol, all is well.
    SoCal Surfer wrote: Christian is a faith not a genre.
    grnday1236
    i love switchfoot (and im athiest). this album took a few plays for me to get into, but i really like it a lot now.
    acornactivist
    because they write and play songs about what is important to them does not make them preachy at all. Any good musician will play what is important to them. because they don't shy away from their beliefs in their music is one of the best parts about them. add that to the fact that their music is genuinely great, and you have the reason they are and have been my favorite band for a long, long time. This album is fantastic, tho it may take a second listening to pick up on. It's also best taken as a whole, so its best not to shuffle this one. That being said, each song IS unique and can stand on its own, they just REALLY flourish together.
    iammeanttolive
    Anyone who thinks this album is too commercial obviously does not understand everything that the band has gone through to make this album. This wasn't just making music for Switchfoot, this was a complete deconstruction of themselves and a reconstruction. This is the album that is Switchfoot. Each song is from their soul and not controlled by a major label. "If it doesn't make you cry, why sing it?" Jon Foreman You need to listen to this album more than once. It's moving and what I consider one of their best albums. Some tracks are a very different sound, and they may take a few listens to get used to- but you'll eventually get hooked. There is a reason it's titled Hello Hurricane. And I'd have to agree with what Shinsen88 said. They have never been preachy. None of their songs are telling you to believe in God or telling you what to believe. Jon Foreman's lyrics are from his heart. He writes what he feels. He's even said that he doesn't like songs that are basically "PRAISE JESUS!!!". I definitely recommend that you watch "The Making Of Hello Hurricane". It is extremely moving to see the guys talk about all the struggles and hardships that they went through. It even made me cry at times. Anywho, Sing It Out is my favorite song on the record.
    SoCal Surfer
    This is probably by far my favorite Switchfoot album yet. And about them being a Christian band they have stated multiple times that being Christian is a faith not a genre.
    Pysmone
    This is such a solid album, definitely their defining album for me.
    Rockinguitar
    Haven't heard Hello Hurricane yet, but "Oh Gravity!," "Lonely Nation," and "Stars" are songs we sometimes use in gigs. Thanx the review, I'll go pick it up.
    some.will.seek
    Wow, I absolutely knew people would complain about the 'christian' part of the band. If you dont like preachy, don't listen. Don't complain if they aren't what 'you' want them to be. These guys live their faith! And the more they do it, the more they stand out amongst the crowd. They want show other people that Christians aren't all about rules and regulations...they are just normal people with a passion for God. I'm keen to get into this record.
    AwesomeDrummer
    i'd give this album a 7/10, since their's some classic tracks like "Mess of Me" and "The Sound", but there is also some weaker ones like "Always", and a few other soft songs, that seem to just make up the numbers. Not to say all of the soft songs are average, i'm just pointing out that there is 2-3 of them that bring the rest down. Great band though.
    theBaartMan
    Skaliveson wrote: Yeah, they are. Their older stuff is more religious and preachy, anything after A Beautiful Letdown doesn't really have the Christian lyrics as strongly (though still the general sentiment and vibe)
    I dunno, I think they have a lot of Christian lyrics that don't mention Jesus by name exactly, but definitely involve their faith. "Daisy" for example, and "Shadow Proves the Sunshine" both from "Nothing is Sound".
    Jon777
    Hello Hurricane is great! It's probably my favorite album so far. Can't wait for Vice Verses, now!
    thExcomunicated
    Woah i just got it yesterday and I still havn't stopped listening to it. It is so different from their other stuff. Can't decide if its better, that takes time. My all time favourite was "Nothing Is Sound" because it had a grungy feel, but this one has no clear genre. Its freakin awesome though
    AreaMan
    Is it just me... or does the riff from Bullet Soul ripoff of Supermassive Blackhole?
    Dizma
    Is it just me or does it seem like most of these posts have to do with if they are Christian or not? Does it really matter as long as you like their music? lol
    Shinsen88
    They've never been preachy. Though some songs do explicitly mention God, most are open to interpretation. Besides, those that do contain Christian themes are about the feelings of the band members; calling them "preachy" just because they mention God is pretty silly, imo. Nowhere in their music are they saying "YOU MUST AGREE WITH US!" That said, the last album was decent, but a little bit of a letdown. I felt like it was a bit too commercial (apparently the band did, too). I will be checking this album out soon.
    andrewcartwork
    for those wondering about Switchfoot being a "Christian" band, read Jon Foreman's quote about the topic on the link below I think the important thing is, Foreman wants the songs to be open to the listener's interpretation. Whatever he explains to be the meaning behind the song, he doesn't want that to be the final call. He often refers to songwriting as finding lost treasures. http://www.landofbrokenhearts.org/faqmus... ristian
    Panasonic3
    hmmm i fogot about these fellows. gonna put down the behemoth and give this one a spin.
    canvasDude
    Aren't these guys a christian rock band? I still like some of their stuff, it's just they can get a little to preachy for my tastes.
    Felkara
    canvasDude wrote: Aren't these guys a christian rock band? I still like some of their stuff, it's just they can get a little to preachy for my tastes.
    I think they stopped being too preachy a few albums ago. Now, you won't even notice the Jesus-Preaching, which suits me fine.
    Skaliveson
    Yeah, they are. Their older stuff is more religious and preachy, anything after A Beautiful Letdown doesn't really have the Christian lyrics as strongly (though still the general sentiment and vibe)
    SorryImAwesome.
    All-time favorite band. I was a bit disappointed in "Mess of Me" but the album's pretty much good nonetheless.
    ajtoce
    nothing wrong with a positive message every once in a while...its becoming a rarity in mainstream music
    Dregen
    ajtoce wrote: nothing wrong with a positive message every once in a while...its becoming a rarity in mainstream music
    I agree. Haven't listened to Switchfoot in a LONG time. Might pick this up sometime.
    JPriceless101
    Switchfoot doesn't really like being called a "Christian" band because they want their music to be open to everyone. I think they do a good job of avoiding that too. Lead singer Jon Foreman had a solo project a few years back that had major religious messages but he has kept that to a minimum with Switchfoot it seems. And yeah, I'm waiting for this album to be delievered to my house. I'm stoked! Lately, everything that Jon has done musically has turned to gold! Check out his solo side project work and also another side project called "Fiction Family."
    xmauidreamsx33
    I love Switchfoot, but I haven't had a chance to listen to this album yet. I'm looking forward to listening.
    FootSwitch
    mess of me is an awesome song, we rarely hear music with that kind of message now a days.
    avengingender
    hello hurricane is undeniably their greatest album thus far. they fixed everything they were doing wrong in their past couple albums and come out better than ever.
    BobChicken
    switchfoot are incredible, and to be honest, their music is not really preachy at all, it tends to focus more on life in general as opposed to overtly christian themes- they are sort of like paramore in that respect
    Monte Cristo
    I was really glad Jon made a tribute for John Perkins. I met him on a missions trip. He has a really cool story about combating racism and reaching out to his community. He wrote a book, I believe.