One of the most notable trends of the last decade has been the exodus of bands from the Christian music ghetto into the mainstream, taking their message to the masses. P.O.D., MuteMath and MxPx are among the groups who have made this leap successfully while incurring their share of criticism along the way. One band that has managed to crossover while largely avoiding backlash from the Christian community however, is Switchfoot. Did you know these San Diego surfer/rockers have been at this game for over a decade? Many don’t know this, and it’s because of that fact that their latest release, The Best Yet, will be a hit-or-miss collection for many listeners.
Loads of people are familiar with “Meant to Live,” but have you heard of “Oh! Gravity?” It was the lead single and title track from their last album, but since it mostly played to the Christian music community, chances are great you won’t recognize it. Same goes for “Awakening.” If you’re not checking out a Christian station on the radio, there’s almost no way you’ve heard either this song. And these are two of their bigger hits.
Longtime fans will have legitimate gripes as well. Before “Meant to Live,” “This is Your Life” and “Dare You to Move” blew up on radio from their album The Beautiful Letdown, it was actually “More Than Fine” which went to Christian radio stations first. That song isn’t even on this record, while iffy efforts from TBL (“On Fire” and “Twenty-Four”) somehow make the cut.
Remember this album’s title though—this is not a greatest hits collection, so the title is apt; if it were, there wouldn’t be so many grievous omissions from the track listing. Where are classics like “Ode to Chin” and “Chem 6A?” Sony gets points for including tracks like “Learning to Breathe” and “Lonely Nation,” but where on earth is the band’s first bona fide hit, “New Way to be Human?” A number of fan favorites and noteworthy tracks are ignored on this collection, and that’s a shame.
While it’s unlikely that any two fans will see eye to eye on which Switchfoot tracks are truly their best yet, they will definitely agree on some of these inclusions. The heavy-hitting “Stars” is here, and although it was never released as a single the gorgeous, moody title track from The Beautiful Letdown sneaks in at the end of this CD too. And their latest single, “This is Home,” which has until now only been available on the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian soundtrack, will please new and old fans alike with its presence here. This track alone is worth price of admission, so to speak.
Jon Foreman & Co. have never been bashful about the introspective, thought-provoking nature of the lyrics in their albums. These are after all the guys who’ve asked us: “This is your life, are you who you want to be?” They have dared you to move and view today as though it were the first day of your entire existence. They have encouraged you to realize that you were meant for so much more and to not lose yourself to the mundane and the dead things of this life. The Best Yet effectively captures these and other sentiments they have spent the last dozen or so years sharing with anyone who will listen.
The Best Yet is a purely subjective title. You can take it or leave it or completely ignore it, and in light of the tracks found on this album, knowing what these guys stand for and the message of hope and encouragement they have shared with so many, it’s probably best to just forget about it altogether. Listen to the music and see why they think these are their best songs. Yet.