Home / Switchfoot’s Nothing Is Sound – One Year Later

Switchfoot’s Nothing Is Sound – One Year Later

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It's been one year since the release of the Switchfoot album Nothing Is Sound (NIS). In many eyes this album was considered a flop and not as good as the previous album The Beautiful Letdown (TBL). According to sales this would be true as NIS didn't even hit the 1 million mark while TBL was around 2.5 million.

So I'll concede NIS was a flop. There are many reasons including the infamous copy protection problem. I also wrote last year that they should have released other songs as singles. I don't know who makes those decisions but for some reason NIS was not meant to be a big hit and that's too bad. Frankly, it is Switchfoot's best effort. As Switchfoot has said in the past, "the song is king", and if that's the case then this is a remarkable collection of songs. The highlights are:

  • "Lonely Nation" – A song that is a great commentary on society. It's a great rocker with depth and is amazing live. Like many of the songs from NIS though it's not often played live anymore. A freakin' shame. This would have been a great single.
  • "Happy Is A Yuppie Word" – My favorite song on the album. Fortunately, this song still seems to be played live. For some reason this song really gets to me.
  • "The Shadow Proves The Sunshine" – A mellower song but with a lot of heart. Again, a great live song, but again, not played live much anymore. The live performance was highlighted by bassist Tim Foreman playing an extra drum.
  • "Easier Than Love" – A great social commentary on the role sex plays; it's still making the live sets.
  • "Politicians" – The hardest rocker Switchfoot has ever done, it would have been a great single. Not in the live set anymore. This is a song aims higher than the problems of our world.
  • "The Fatal Wound" – Kind of a simpler song, it has the best lyrics I've ever heard. I've heard that it was written from the point of view of one of the thieves on the cross. Live, it almost brought me to tears, but not played anymore.
  • Those are songs that are absolutely fantastic and I can't believe fans of the band didn't latch on to them as much as the songs from TBL. These are songs that should have been heard but haven't and probably won't be much anymore.

    Switchfoot even had a myspace contest to determine songs they would play and none of the songs from NIS made the cut. It seems even the fans can't get past TBL and so it seems that Switchfoot has closed the NIS chapter and is moving on to Oh! Gravity. (OG).

    For me, NIS was a great album and showed a ton of musical growth and I'm sure OG will be even better. I just hope that the problems that plagued NIS will not appear again. Heck, maybe folks will discover NIS and give it a chance.

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    About Broken Masterpieces

    • I am glad to see this written, Tim. I’m torn. I like NiS. I like it a lot. Their best? Somedays I agree with you. Somedays I am more partial to TBL. Both are great albums and NiS did deserve a better fate. I’m hoping for big things from the album they are recording now.

    • I think a big reason it didn’t sell as well as expected is because the band matured faster than its fans. Hopefully, the next album will continue that trend.

      NIS isn’t a kids album. TBL sounds a lot like many other pop rock bands out there. That’s the difference.

    • Well said Tim! I agree…NIS was musically BRILLIANT. The lyrics are mind blowingly good. In my opinion, that album was the closet any band has ever gotten to perfection.
      So why didn’t is sell better? I have to agree with you on the singles…Stars…a good pop rock song but it does get a little forgettable if you hear it often. We Are One Tonight has a great message but isn’t overly catchy or a song that sticks with the listener for many days after. I think they should of released ‘Lonely Nation’ that song would of BLOWN UP the radio. But such is life, and we can only hope that people will give O!G the credit it is sure to deserve

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    • First let me start off by saying: I don’t think I could disagree with you more.

      Then, let me say that I agree it deserved more play and more of a chance than it received from the public. I think it was the combination of weak singles and copy-protection that sunk the boat before it made it’s maiden voyage. It’s unfortunate, but in a way fitting.

      While “Nothing is Sound” isn’t the worst album I’ve ever heard, it is definitely the worst I’ve heard from Switchfoot. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a Switchfoot fan for almost 4 years now, have seen them live 5 times, and have met them twice. They’re amazing guys and their music has touched me in ways I never could have imagined.

      This album, however, was a complete dud. At best it sounded like a compilation of rejects from “The Beautiful Letdown” and at worst it simply was that song repeated several times over. In fact, most of the songs on the album are comparable to songs on TBL; some lyrically, others melodically, sometimes even both. The guitar riff from “Easier than Love” clearly resembles “More than Fine”, “Politicians” could be mistaken for “Adding to the Noise”, and while I’m admittedly a fan of “Lonely Nation” the song’s sentiments and general sound are so similar to “Meant to Live” it’s almost laughable. Not only that, but both the writing and the recorded performances of the songs were lackluster. While “Shadow Proves the Sunshine” is absolutely a beautiful, heartfelt song, Jon Foreman seemed to be so distracted with tinny sound effects that he didn’t bother to mentally show up for work; I didn’t *feel* a word he was saying.
      And finally I have never in my life heard two more syrupy songs than “Golden” and “We Are One Tonight”. While the latter has admittedly grown on me since I first bought the album, the lyrics in both songs are so quixotic and sugary that I could swear they were intended for one or both of the Duff sisters.

      The album is not without it’s future classics however. I agree that “The Fatal Wound” is a fantastic song, as is “The Blues”. The reason I single out these songs is because these are the only songs where Switchfoot’s philosophy of “the song is king” really applies. Both songs show amazing range lyrically and sound nothing like any other songs Switchfoot has previously recorded. They are also the only songs that have that trademark personal touch that Jon is so able to deliver. The other songs on the album point the finger at the audience, but these songs point the finger inward. It is always when Jon reveals his heart and his feelings that the fans are able to connect most to what he is saying.

      For those who are in love with NOISE, NIS is a fantastic album. Every song is filled wall to wall with enough noise to burst an eardrum…but I felt that many of the songs were drowned out. The original feeling and meaning of the lyrics were sacrificed to heavier guitar licks and crazy psychedelic sound machines. My favorite song that I heard previous to the release of NIS was “Daisy”, which was circulating on the internet as an intimate acoustic performance. Once they got it in the studio and jazzed it up, taking this delicate, beautiful song, and making a rock-anthem out of it…I felt it totally ruined the sentiment. The song was no longer king on this album, the producer was.

      I’m not trying to make anyone who loved NIS feel bad about it. I wish I *could* love it. A lot of people don’t believe I’m a fan when they hear how harshly I’ve judged Switchfoot’s latest effort. All I can say is after a year of repeated listenings my opinion has not changed. I’m just hoping that Switchfoot will return to that organic, introspective songwriting that so many of us loved them for. I’m tired of hearing the world is a terrible place, I already know that. I want to hear that there’s hope, and that I’m not alone in the struggle.

    • I got into Switchfoot with The Beautiful Letdown. Then I got the other three albums. I heard from various people that TBL was Switchfoot’s sell-out album. I could see that it had the least experimental, most radio-friendly sound, but song-for-song, I still liked it better than the rest.

      Then Nothing Is Sound came out, and I was like, alright, forget that. This is the real Switchfoot album.

      I think every song on this album is great except “Golden” and “We Are One Tonight”. “Lonely Nation” doesn’t do much for me either, but it’s the opener and it works well. “The Blues” is a real grower in that it sounds kind of ordinary at first, but if you listen to it for a while you really start to get it. It evokes some great moods.
      Instead of repeating you, I’ll mention some of the ones you didn’t. “The Setting Sun” is a pop/rock masterpiece — I love that song, and it unquestionably should have been a single (instead of the oh-so-generic “We Are One Tonight”). It’s simple yet complex. Also, “Daisy” is just jaw-dropping. I find most of the acoustic ballads on The Beautiful Letdown to be nice diversions. This song, however, is a stunner.

      Well, keep up the good… whatever.

    • punkskater

      Ok switchfoot is a great alternative rock band. There alubm nothing is sound ROCK OUT LOUD like song like, Stars, lonely nation,easyer then love,politics, like politics might have a little bit of screaming but not really.Switchfoot is like three days grace and yellow card all three are great alternative bands.

    • ROCKER

      WHAT the heck is pop rock, pop punk, power pop, hardcore pop, what the hell is the diffrecne from rock, punk, and hardcore. HELL SWITCHFOOT ROCKS

    • I have been a Switchfoot fan for more than 10 years. Each and every release they have had, in its own way, is an absolute masterpiece. Those guys put their hearts, souls, blood and sweat into crafting each lyric and hook. Brilliant gents, those.


    • Jon Foster

      Well, you see. The reception of Switchfoot’s fifth studio album ”Nothing Is Sound” is tossed from good to bad all the time just like on this page because it has only been measured by it’s comparison to Switchfoot’s fourth studio album, ”The Beautiful Letdown”. Nothing Is Sound had impacted my life in a way that is indescribable in any way. Any effort to explain would be a failed attempt. That’s what’s beautiful about Nothing Is Sound and that’s that it’s locked in my soul in a way only I will ever understand. While it is pointless as well trying to mention all this, I need to say that Nothing Is Sound was the darkest of Switchfoot’s albums and the most touching. It’s everlasting beauty coming from one song after the other illustrates life in a brilliant nail-it-on-the-head way. When The Beautiful Letdown came, people were amazed by the tune and lyrics of the infamous ”This is Your Life”, ”Meant to Live” and ”I Dare You To Move”. I have been a fan of Switchfoot since 2002, so I am not a age-old, experienced wise-man telling you this. The problem is that when something comes out, everyone expects it to be better than the last. And it really does not have to be that way… honestly! Switchfoot is an extremely one of a kind artist that may or may not ever come around again. We are extremely privileged and blessed to have experienced them in our lifetime. They have a gift and unlike other artist, each album Switchfoot puts out is a new chapter of their lives. So perhaps Nothing Is Sound was a time of mental and spiritual darkness and depression for our lyricist Jon Foreman so this is the beauty that came out at the time. Please don’t ruin the beauty and blessing of having Switchfoot in our lives by critically receiving their albums in comparison to the last stage of their lives. It’s unfair, and in my opinion would make me feel as though I had failed my mission to reach to everyone through my lyrics and touch their hearts simply because they based everything I put my heart into and stood for in how much money was made or how many singles there were, if I were Jon Foreman. Switchfoot is a story. And what we can do thanks to them is watch and follow every step of their lives (say albums or whatever) and learn and be touched. This is not just simply a game about ”how much better the album is than the last”. Anyways.. it’s all in your opinion of what you believe and make music out to be. I can’t change that. But it just sorta bugged me reading this page. See you…