As far as Christian rock bands go, Switchfoot are remarkably versatile. The sounds of their albums varies wildly, from the glossy folk-pop of The Beautiful Letdown, to the crunchy near-metal of Vice Verses. Where the Light Shines Through tries to embody yet another new sound, but unfortunately ends up sounding confused, like a grab-bag of influences from across rock music.
Closing track Hope is the Anthem aims for transcendence and spectacle, but instead cribs too much from the U2 playbook, and ends up sounding bombastic, but insubstantial. Looking for America borrows the guitar-based beat from Eminem’s Lose Yourself, even featuring snippets of rapped verses, leading to a track that resembles Linkin Park more than anything. Shake this Feeling combines the glittery synths and guitar power-chords of modern pop-rock bands like Coldplay and Maroon 5, but without the catchy hooks that lend those band’s their success. Float melds the funky bass and off-beat guitars off a million disco-indebted indie rock bands, and consequently sounds supremely generic. The track’s only saving grace is a catchy vocal hook, and the sweet harmonies in the chorus.
Unfortunately, said vocals are marred by fairly vapid lyrics, with most lines either meaning very little – “turn it up so I can feel it” – or being utterly nonsensical – “baby’s in that slow emotion / moonwalking on the ocean”. Only the bridge makes any attempt at depth, but it comes across as faux-profundity – “away from the crowds where you realise / the herd’s insecure or free the mind” – without actually saying much of note.
Where the Light Shines Through, whilst a perfectly easy listen, just isn’t interesting or unique enough to be memorable. The instrumentals are extremely derivative, often without understanding what made the sounds’ originators work so well, and the effective vocals are undone by poor lyricism. They’ve always been a fairly chameleonic band, but Where the Light Shines Through just goes to show how much Switchfoot need to find a sound that’s truly their own.