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Switchfoot badly misses the mark with Fading West

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"Fading West" by Switchfoot

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In anticipation of next week's release of Switchfoot's new album Fading West, iTunes Radio is streaming the album in its entirety. If they wish to sell any copies, they may want to stop.

Instead of another entry in the catalog of exciting, innovative, gritty melodic rock for which Switchfoot has been justifiably heralded, Fading West is a disappointing, dreary, misguided exercise in tweener-oriented commercial music making. From start to finish the album is drenched in lush overkill production and cotton ball keyboards, turning every track into bubblegum void of passion. The crunchy hooks that previously announced a Switchfoot song had commenced are completely absent from this recording, replaced with purposeless and irritating cutesy vocal loops first bringing songs in, then repeating throughout the track with ever-increasing aggravation each time they come around.

What is even more distressing is that beneath the production lies nothing salvageable. Whereas Switchfoot has become one of the most dependable creators of fresh -- or at least fresh-sounding -- songs in recent years, Fading West has not one single genuinely memorable tune. It careens from recycled bits of earlier work to weak imitations of whatever may be currently popular, making no effort toward originality. It is the kind of record one grows tired of due to having heard it all many times previously even before listening to it all the way through, should one persevere that far.

Hopefully this is a one-time stumble and Switchfoot's next release will see a rekindling of its creative fire. If not, Fading West is a sad, tiresome warning that Switchfoot itself is fading into the western sunset.

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