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Released: Feb 25, 2003
Genre: Alternative Rock, Post-Grunge, Hard Rock
Label: Columbia, Red Ink
Number Of Tracks: 11
With "The Beautiful Letdown", Switchfoot at last found the audience beyond their CCM label, and crafted some truly notable pieces
The Beautiful Letdown
takenthecannoli, on april 29, 2013 6 of 8 people found this review helpful
Sound: Switchfoot began as an alternative trio in the mid 1990s as Chin Up, consisting of singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Foreman, brother Tim Foreman on bass, and drummer Chad Butler. Initially marketed toward a Christian contemporary audience and achieving only slight notice with their first three releases, the band garnered most attention with the releases of 2000's Grammy-nominated "Learning To Breathe" and (often painfully) prominent presence of the band's music in the 2002 film A Walk To Remember. Joined by John Fields, Switchfoot met Charlie Peacock, and an expired contract with their record label, Switchfoot recorded the follow-up to 2000's gold-certified effort. Recording consisted mostly of tracks the band was already performing live and was reportedly completed in a matter of weeks, but after the band signed with Columbia Records, the release was delayed for further mixing. 2003 finally saw "The Beautiful Letdown".
The record is certainly no letdown, but it's all kinds of beautiful. For a band firmly rooted in a CCM label since 1996, Switchfoot grew immensely between albums. Rather than some of the mess on "Learning To Breathe", the band sounds like a well-oiled machine, with stronger melodies and great musical curves. The addition of keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas lends itself to a fuller sound, Tim Foreman is powerful on bass guitar, and Butler has particular stylistic variations that sculpt certain tracks entirely. Guitars are bigger and have a greater rock sensibility than previous records (some of which might briefly spotlight a riff or two "Chem 6A", "Incomplete", and "Company Car" from the first two releases contained fifty odd percent of the guitar work in Switchfoot's entire discography. With "The Beautiful Letdown", Switchfoot has confidently stepped over the alternative line into post-grunge territory.
Though many tracks ("Meant To Live", "Ammunition", "Adding To The Noise") are suited more to the airwaves than Switchfoot's modest previous work, they retain much of the charm of earlier releases. "More Than Fine" could be the younger brother to 1999's "New Way To Be Human", with alternative rock influence in the vein of R.E.M. and Dave Matthews Band. Similarly, "Redemption" is only as tortured as anything from "Learning To Breathe", "Gone" is pop-rock at its silliest, and "Twenty-Four"'s acoustic melancholy could well be a more realized "Learning To Breathe". None of the record is held back by the band's history, and most nods to it have the dial turned up at least two or three notches (often more). "Dare You To Move" is, as it happens, a cut from "Learning To Breathe" re-imagined and truly, beautifully recreated. However, where such close comparisons can be made to other alternative rock acts, "This Is Your Life" and "The Beautiful Letdown" have a slight U2 feel. As in the case of the others, these allusions don't detract, but when paid close attention do closely reflect the source material.
Electronic elements are present, especially in "This Is Your Life" and "The Beautiful Letdown". Both are primarily bass-driven, though the former has a chilling skeleton of electronic drums as well as a brooding bass line. "Gone" has a few such elements thrown in, those most are just that thrown in. Though the electronic style certainly compliments "This Is Your Life" and the titular cut, it cripples "Gone" and "Adding To The Noise". "Gone" is, like, so totally rockin' and radical, dude, that it becomes extremely difficult to take seriously. The subject matter is understandable enough, but set to the ridiculously mixed instrumental, the entire thing takes a bullet that undermines the record's entire second half. "Adding To The Noise" is less electronic than a product of the radio-friendly pop-rock age, un-ironically playing the very music it thumbs its nose at. In such close proximity (and obtrusively sandwiching the beautiful "On Fire"), the tracks sound just plain stupid and come off as immature.
Then there's the post-grunge element. Switchfoot sure can rock, it seems, with "Meant To Live" opening the album with a sucker punch and a great opening riff. Similarly, "Dare You To Move" benefits greatly from Switchfoot's grittier side, even if the song itself is anything but. The song is a true gem with a scarily gorgeous chorus. "Ammunition" is a straight-up rock tune with just a hint of the Stones. On the opposite end, "On Fire" is a stunning piano ballad and "Twenty-Four" is the beautiful sunset of finales. Not a note is out of place in either case.
There wasn't a smarter direction for Switchfoot to have gone with their mainstream debut, and though this is certainly a wonder for sales five times as many units as "Learning To Breathe" it sometimes hurts the record. "Gone" is a particularly awkward moment and "Adding To The Noise" is just too safe. Perhaps it is best to thank the pains the band does go through to stretch out, but it's hard to ignore the sequence at the second half of the record: the silly "Gone", the beautiful "On Fire", the goofy "Adding To The Noise", and then the gorgeous "Twenty-Four". Admittedly, "Redemption" marks a downward curve for the record, alternating the band's best with some of its weakest. Altogether, "The Beautiful Letdown" does introduce Switchfoot to broader horizons, and at the very least "Dare You To Move" alone is worth the cost of admission. // 7
Lyrics: Switchfoot's secret weapon is Jon Foreman. With lyrical craftsmanship as in-tune with the emotive psyche of his audience as Dylan, he possesses the ability to sell the band at its weakest. Even "Gone" (featuring a tip of the hat to Bono himself) is better written by him than anyone else. Even coming from the intimate lo-fi indie Switchfoot, Foreman evolves so quickly into rock stardom that it's difficult to believe he doesn't simply see it as another style. "Meant To Live" is Switchfoot at its most bitter, and Foreman reinforces the track almost more than the music itself. "Maybe we've been living with our eyes half open", he ponders, "...have we lost ourselves?" In like fashion, "The Beautiful Letdown" tackles some inherently heavy topics, whether they expand upon Foreman's ever-searching spirituality or desire for self-improvement. "More Than Fine" is reaching past the hilltop: "When I wake in the morning/I want to blow into pieces/I want more than just okay". Foreman frequently represents the struggle and the determination to see it through, as the sweeping title track especially emphasizes. It's all somewhat broad, but seldom disjointed.
Until the second half.
As in the case of the music, beginning with "Redemption", the record begins to feel slightly uneasy. This isn't particularly evident until "Gone", and the blame falls far from Foreman, but the thematic elements tend to shift around. "Redemption" and "The Beautiful Letdown" are both very vulnerable and fallen, though it seems bizarre that a track that builds from discomfort to hope ("Redemption") is followed by an introverted war cry. Did the apparent build in momentum go by unnoticed by Foreman? More than likely, it comes down to these being re-purposed live tracks. "Gone" is about materialism and breakdown in communication, but is again so bizarrely poppy and uplifting that it becomes hard to decide whether the record's on an upward swing or not. "Adding To The Noise" boasts essentially the same message, though focusing more on the relationship between popular media and communication. It's bizarre, coming from a song that sounds like it belongs on such airwaves (to the song's credit, Foreman does suggest "If we're adding to the noise/Turn off this song"). Considering its similarity to "Gone" and each song being placed after an extremely moving piece, the second half is by then off rails entirely. "Twenty-Four", summarized with "Life was not what I thought it was/Twenty-four hours ago", is a moving closer, but intruded upon a bit by the previously careening collection of imagery.
As a vocalist, Foreman fills shoes as big as the tracks demand and as vulnerable as his lyrical material suggests. "Meant To Live" sees him as a bombast rock star, "Dare You To Move" is more moving and less pretentious than evident inspiration Bono, and "Twenty-Four" is equally quiet and powerful. "Ammunition" throws in an element newer than any of these: screaming. All of these in unison is a perfect resume for future work by Foreman, though he does get a bit throaty in "On Fire". He has two portions that are equal part song and spoken-word, one in "The Beautiful Letdown" and another at the end of "Gone". Even amidst the weaknesses of the latter, his performance is further layered. Put simply, Foreman is Switchfoot's frontman, which so often seems a rarity in a genre more and more being flooded with faceless leaders. // 7
Overall Impression: With "The Beautiful Letdown", Switchfoot at last found the audience beyond their CCM label, and crafted some truly notable pieces particularly the reworked "Dare You To Move", which receives airplay on secular channels ten years after its release. Greater production value allowed for greater ambiance and solidified the record's sonic identity (a weakness of "Learning To Breathe"). It is extremely evident by the second half that either Columbia had a hand in reworking the tracks or that the band was just really into the MTV age, and this tends to detract from the overall thematic cohesiveness of the record. However, the songs on their own are as mature, clever, and grand as anything the band has released before. Whatever else "The Beautiful Letdown" made Switchfoot, it must certainly have made them proud.
The Beautiful Letdown
life_247, on december 23, 2003 3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Since this is the First review of the album here's the listings etc.
1. Meant To Live
2. This Is Your Life
3. More than Fine
5. Dare You To Move
7. Beautiful Let Down
9. On Fire
10. Adding To The Noise
This is the bands 4th Studio album, legend of Chin, A new way to be Humanand Learning to breathe. This time the Formane boys and drummer Butler are joined by new member Jerome Fontamillas. The Beautiful Letdown improves on the unique sound of switchfoot, with the storming amunation and catchy Gone. Its a real Idie/Rck record and I love it to bits, it brings a smile to my face everytime. The opening meant to live is a real shock to the system and plays with stero speakers. // 10
Lyrics: Jon Foremans vocals are as catchy as ever on the track gone and reach new hieghs with Adding to the noise and ammunation. Classic Switchfoot vocals are attained with the opening meant to live and this is you're life. But the slow On fire isnt great, and the title track isnt great. // 8
Overall Impression: Overall Switchfoots 4th Studio Effort is my favorite, it has great songs including the new, Dare you to move (Re-recoreded off Learning to Breathe). But the Great Ammunation, meant to live, gone, adding to the noise and are all great great songs that stick in you're head all day. There really isnt anyother banf like switchfoot. My Main gripe with this album is the order at which the songs are in. To me it doesnt seem to fit. But it's a great album by a truly unique group so support them and check it out.
Unforntunately the album and all their other ones are only avlible on american import here in the uk, amazon.co.uk does it for 12.99 so it's not too pricey but dont expect to find it in you're local shop. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
musicluvrfl1, on june 29, 2004 2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: The style is a sort of grunge and rock and layed back. It's a fun CD to rock to, but it's also nice to just sit back and listen. The beats are good. The style is pretty up-to-date. However, it doesn't sound like most bands. It's got a less grundgy sound, but still keeps the rock sound, which still sounds awesome. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are fun but also inspirational. Like the sound, the lyrics vary in depth. A song like "Gone" is fun sounding, but the lyrics for something like "Twenty-four" are layed back and inspirational. I find I can relate to what he says in all of the songs. // 10
Overall Impression: Compared to other artists, these guys sound amazing. A Beautiful Letdown is so much fun to listen to. These days, since I first got the album a few weeks ago, it's been in my CD player in my car, and I almost can't stop listening to it. I would recomend it if you like bands like Three Days Grace or 311. They kind of share that sound. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
afirocker00, on june 10, 2004 1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: A very unique sound with very well thought out and organized guitar licks. I'm especially fond of the dun in "Meant to Live". The sound is very reminenscent of nothing I've ever heard. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are very positive. This is an album you won't be afraid for your children to listen to. The songs are all very unique and no two songs sound the exact same. // 8
Overall Impression: Switchfoot really did a good job on this album. It's a break from the over-used hard rock feel. Very refreshing. The first single "Meant to live" is what first got me listening to Switchfoot. "Dare you to move" is the second track from the album. This is one of the cds you can really listen to without shuffling through tracks. If you're looking for a mellower sound than usual,go out and get Switchfoot's "The Beautiful Letdown", because unlike the title, it's not a letdown. This Christian-rock group offers a more positive sound than so many other bands out there today. So pop it into your cd player and chill out. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
unregistered, on march 03, 2005 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Beatiful Letdown sounds great. It combines great rock and roll songs and guitar riffs in the songsmeant to live and ammunition and excellent vocal and insrumental songs in Dare You To Move, Twenty-Four, and Beatiful Letdown. The album has many creative intro's to their songs that I have never heard before like on this is your life, more than fine, and gone. Overall I must say that the sound is really good and almost excellent. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics in The Beatiful Letdown are some of the best I have heard of. On each song the lyrics are very well thought of and have lots of meaning and give the listner lots of thought and reflection. The lead singer of Switchfoot Jon Foreman is an excellent singer and has lots of vocal skills. // 10
Overall Impression: The Beatiful Letdown can compare with many different artists and groups it it great because it so differrent from song to song. You don't get tired from hearing the same tune. The most impressive songs from this album are Meant To Live, Dare You To Move, Ammunition, and The Beatiful Letdown. This CD is a keeper and is great on anyone's album collection. If I lost it or someone stole my copy I would for sure purchase another one. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
unregistered, on december 26, 2003 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Five star. Catchy, flavorful tunes which you find yourself humming constantly. If you have heard 'Meant to Live', you know what I mean. From a guitarists' standpoint, they maintain musical excellence without confusing the listener. In track 7, the title track, they make it clear that they can not only rock, but can also be inordinately suprising. In track 5, rather than complete 4 bars of 4, they cut it down to 3 bars of 4 for part of the song, as if to show listeners that they do have this sort of musical talent. // 10
Lyrics: In this album, Switchfoot shows us all why they have one of the fastest selling cds on Billboard. As well as blowing us all away with their well-phrased music, their lyrics are excellent as well. For example, see track 8, 'Gone'. Rather than go back into another chorus as most other bands would, they choose not to. Instead, they go on a creative tangent, talking about everything and everyone from Elvis to Bono to Al Pacino. Throughout the album, the theme seems to be summed up perfectly in their second track 'This is your life'. In the chorus of this song, Singer Jonathan Foreman states 'This is your life, are you who you want to be?'. Coming from a Christian worldview, they are not forceful or imposing in any way, yet still find the lyrics to get their message across seamlessly in a way that keeps the listener coming back for more. // 10
Overall Impression: I was very impressed overall. I also have their 'Learning to Breathe' album, and was delighted by some of the changes they made, as well as some elements they left behind. But when it all comes down to it, Jonathan Foreman's voice is really what sets this band apart. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
sctblr, on january 15, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: They have an amazing sound, it's kinda different, it's a real happy fun music. Some of the effects on the CD are great, some make you laugh at how different and weird it is, some of it is jus so beautiful. It is an amazing CD. it is amazing and real moving in it's way of creativity, it's rather different from anything out there. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are amazing, if I may put a few (don't argue, I got them right from my CD book). From track 4, Ammunition; "Blame it on what you've been through, Blame it on what you're into, Blame it on your religions, Blame it on politicians" the emotion and meaning behind these words surpasses many other songs that have been put out by many other bands. Switchfoot is a Christian band, if you haven't figured it out and they are so lucky to make it so popular on the 'secular' (a word I hate personally) charts, because their message is so full and rich. I love this CD, one of the best I have bought in a few years. // 10
Overall Impression: Ok, I bought this CD twice for myself already, but than I found it, so I gave one to my cuz, who now loves it so, it rubs off on people, but I love this CD, I would have to say that it deserves a few more million purchases, if it convinces one person to just stand out and say what they believe, I believe it has done somethin many records haven't. I love it. If you don't that's fine, but plz don't bash me for saying I love something, like what you like and that's fine if you don't but let me like what I like, not like it really matters to you anyway, unless you go buy it, then my work is done (this is free advertising, I deserve money). // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
unregistered, on april 21, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The CD Has good sound quality, you can tell it is well recorded. This is a great CD if you like Rock/soft rock music. I really like it, it is a fun CD to listen to, but also the musicians are very skilled. // 8
Lyrics: The lyrics are very good. If you are a Christian, they can be taken as songs to God, if you aren't, then the lyrics are just fun. Most of the lyrics are good, although "Adding to the Noise" lyrics are kinda stupid. The lyrics go smooth with the music, and the singer is awesome. // 8
Overall Impression: Switchfoot is great if you like Lifehouse, Coldplay, maybe 3 doors down, etc. My personal favorite songs are track 1, "Meant to Live" and track 6 "Redemtion". I love listen to it with friends, we all get in it to it and have fun. I hate the lyrics to "Adding to the Noise". This is a CD that I would buy again if stolen, it rocks, and is great for any rock fan. Also, I am normally more hardcore, but this is a nice relief sometimes. // 8
The Beautiful Letdown
UG Team, on may 03, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: "The Beautiful Letdown" is the 4th release of the San-Diego based Christian Rock band Switchfoot. "The Beautiful Letdown" comes three years after Switchfoot's third independently-released and critically acclaimed album "Learning To Breathe."
Often compared with a music of REM, Coldplay, and even Nirvana, Switchfoot's "Letdown" represents the quartet's evolution toward a more accessible sound, it retained the band's raw energy and smart lyrics. Filled with edgy guitar driven rock on tracks like Meant to Live, diluted with softer rock tunes of More Than Fine, Dare You To Move and anthemic alt-rock crunch This Is Your Life, "The Beautiful Letdown" offers an outstanding rock album with a powerful and clear voice of Jon Foreman. What is also impressive is that Switchfoot do have their own sound -- that makes them stand out from the rest of many rock bands these days -- perfectly balanced, tone-suspended, distorted guitars with a sharp and clear "voice". However, you can't hit the band for a resemblance throughout the album, their music varies from a song to song, and that makes you think of a constant searching of the band's weight niche -- perceptible jumps from smooth acoustic tones to a sharp distortion prevent them to be categorized.
Fans of solid guitar rock will fall into love with this album as soon as they hear the opening crunch of Meant To Live -- the song about how much we have strayed away from God. It has very strong intro and nice chorus. People with a softer side of their music demands will be suprized by This Is Your Life -- the band's most anthemic rock crunch since Dare You To Move from 2002's "A Walk to Remember" soundtrack, and More Than Fine -- a sophisticated and catchy alternative pop. However, both songs won't lose anything, if those Madonna-like synths would be turned down. For the hardcore, you can't beat Redemption, Ammunition, and Adding To The Noise. The Beautiful Letdown with a bulged bassline is another decent song. // 10
Lyrics: There is the only one letdown on the album -- the slight downfall (probably just a stagnation) of lyrics. While avoiding obvious sacred references in their lyrics, they're still using the same formula, which were used by Creed, Jars of Clay and many other Christian Rock acts. They are not overpreaching though. Nevertheless, Foreman's songwriting is impressive, which is obvious by his possibilities to put hidden messages behind the lyrics. // 10
Overall Impression: On one side we have a firm rock album filled up with a mixture of hard rock sounds along with softer pop-rock ballads and alternative passages. Having kept in mind a top production quality, it ends up as a worth product. On another side, this perfection comes close to a pure flat overpolished sounding and it's not easy to take off the feeling that their songs are overproduced and designed to appeal to the widest audience. But it's not obvious and could be easly ignored. All in all, with catchy rock tunes and deep lyrics along with passionate and confident voice of Jonathan Foreman it is safe to declare -- "The Beautiful Letdown" rocks! // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
unregistered, on june 08, 2004 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: I really enjoyed the sound of Switchfoot. They are a rock band that plays more typical rock songs but also knows how to slow it down. The guitars are awesome and Jon Foreman has a great voice. Their songs also vary from up-beat songs like "Gone" to slower songs like "24". Also there are some pretty good bass parts that complete everything. I really like the drummer too and overall I think that they are a great band. // 10
Lyrics: Their lyrics really are deep if you are willing to think about them. I think that Foreman has a great voices and their lyrics are meaningful and make since. It is easy to relate to many of their songs and they can be motivational. // 10
Overall Impression: They really are a unique band and I love them. I got hooked by the hit song "Meant To Live" but I love every single song on the CD. It is a great by and I recommend it to any type of rock fan and even people who might not always like rock because it is such a good album. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
aquaknight3, on august 09, 2005 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound of this CD is amazing. I think people could debate on this, but I really think it sounds great, I listen to this CD a lot. They have some good, more rock type music (Meant To Live), and some soft, peaceful music (On Fire, Twenty-Four). I, knowing how to play all these songs, enjoy very much how they sound, and when I pick up my guitar and start playing, Switchfoot's will be one of the random songs I'm almost always going to play. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are good, but not the best though. I think it's great that every one of their songs are Christ-based, but I think they could have been a little bit more creative. Some of their songs' lyrics are wonderful. But it's harder to memorize their lyrics than other band's just because the lyrics don't flow like some do. Overall, They're really good, but not the best. I think the vocals are really nice, it fits really well with the music. So I give their lyrics a 4. // 8
Overall Impression: I have just a few things to say here. Switchfoot is an awesome band that makes great music. It makes a great influence on people; good Christian music has that wonderful effect. And oh yes, I would definately buy this album again. // 10
The Beautiful Letdown
Stealthbass, on december 12, 2005 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: This CD is adult alternative pop/rock, post-grunge. But it is also Christiann rock. Switchfoot is a great acoustic sounding band. They join energy, power, and rock and make a melodic acoustic rock sound. Their is sad, loud, and happy packed into this album. This is their 4th Cd let out. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are so good. They fit the music prefectly. They are not annoying. The lyrics make you sad, and happy and have a soothing feeling to them. Jon Foreman leads the sound of the music with his powerful lyrics. His skills are spectacular. // 10
Overall Impression: This CD is among the best pop-rock CDs. The most impressive songs on this album are: Meant To Live and Adding To The Noise. The sound is almost perfect through out the whole cd. Sometimes you can lose interest, but this CD will not disappoint you. I love the pop-rock sound. If it were stolen/lost I would buy most likely buy it back. // 10