After establishing a firm fanbase in the Christian rock community, Switchfoot’s career went into orbit with the release of their fourth album, The Beautiful Letdown. The album went double platinum, Switchfoot hit the mainstream airwaves, and suddenly, they were as much of a hit with secular audiences as with faith-based ones. Since then, the band that describes themselves as “Christian by faith, not by genre” have continued to flirt as much with the mainstream as with the Christian charts, regularly sliding into the Hot 100 and Billboard 200 with their breezy rockers and earnest ballads. Here’s how we rank all the Switchfoot albums from worst to best.
Interrobang, Switchfoot’s twelfth and latest album, was released on August 20, 2021. Although a far cry from the harder-rocking tendencies of their early albums, it’s an affable enough affair, with gentle melodies and introspective lyrics. Judged on its own merits, it’s a calming, inoffensive listen… the problem is, you can’t help but wish it would rock just a little bit harder, for old times sake if nothing else.
11. The Legend of Chin
Switchfoot made their debut with 1997’s The Legend of Chin. While they’d make better albums in the future, it served as a solid introduction to the band, with Billboard describing it as “an intriguing and surprisingly mature effort for a debut release.” Not all of the songs are particularly memorable, but all of the ingredients for an enjoyable listen are in place.
10. Learning to Breathe
Switchfoot released their third studio album on September 26, 2000. Like their previous two albums, it takes a universal approach to spirituality, an unusual, but highly refreshing, move for a Christian rock band. The album became their most commercially successful until that point, selling over half a million records, certifying gold, and picking up a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Gospel Album.
9. Nothing Is Sound
At the time of its release, Switchfoot described Nothing Is Sound as their darkest album yet, with John Foreman calling it “a dark chapter revealing even more mysteries to be solved”. With songs that touch on everything from the end of the world to the commercialization of sex, it’s certainly got its moments of gloom, but the vein of hope that runs throughout the album keeps it from becoming a downer. Released on September 13, 2005, it reached number 3 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Christian charts.
8. New Way to be Human
After making a strong introduction with their debut album, Switchfoot returned in 1999 with their second studio album, New Way to be Human. While not perfect, the blissful melodies, raspy vocals, and intelligent lyrics make it an album that has as much appeal for non-believing alt-rock fans as to Christian listeners. Standout tracks include Something More (Augustine’s Confession), I Turn Everything Over, and Only Hope, which later featured in the movie “A Walk To Remember.”
7. Native Tongue
Commercially, 2019’s Native Tounge ranks as one of Switchfoot’s biggest flops, becoming their first album since their 2000 breakthrough Learning to Breathe not to make it into the top 20 of the Billboard 200 and their first since 2009’s Hello Hurricane to miss out on the top spot of the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. But commercial fortunes aside, it’s still a hugely enjoyable album, full of well-produced, expertly crafted songs with catchy choruses and clever lyrics.
6. Vice Versus
For their eighth studio album, Switchfoot decided to drop the guitar-based sound of their previous albums and turn the spotlight on the rhythm section. The result is a heaver, swampier sound that plays wonderfully against Jon and Tim Foreman’s introspective, probing lyrics. A solid front-to-back album, Vice Verses won the band another number one on the country charts and a top ten hit on the Billboard 200.
5. Hello Hurricane
Hello Hurricane has all the ingredients of a great rock album – a gleaming production, huge hooks, catchy choruses, and lyrics that, while rooted in faith, are universal enough in theme to appeal to a secular audience as well as a Christian one. Released on November 10, 2009, it hit number 2 on the Christian chart and scooped the award for Best Rock Gospel Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
4. Oh! Gravity
Described by Paste Magazine as a “strong album of bitingly contemplative, rocking power pop,” the band’s sixth album was a critical and commercial hit on its release in December 2006, picking up sparkling reviews, a number one spot on the Christian album chart, and a nomination for a Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year at the 39th GMA Dove Awards.
3. Fading West
It’s rare for a Switchfoot album to win anything but unanimous praise from critics, and Fading West, the band’s ninth album, proved no exception. Described by All Music as an “upbeat, uplifting affair” that “pushes Switchfoot’s sound forward, while displaying the band’s long-running knack for melodic, catchy pop songs,” it’s a dazzling soundscape of heartfelt ballads, funky floor fillers, and sunny rockers. Released on January 14, 2014, it reached number 1 on the Christian chart and number 6 on the Billboard 200.
2. The Beautiful Letdown
Switchfoot’s fourth studio album may have been beautiful, but it was no letdown, catapulting the band into the charts with its two top twenty singles (Meant to Live and Dare You to Move), reaching number 16 on the Billboard 200 and number 1 on the Christian chart, selling over 2.7 million couples, and eventually certifying double platinum. It also managed to scoop the Album of the Year award at the 2003 San Diego Music Awards.
1, Where the Light Shines Through
In at number one is the band’s tenth album, Where the Light Shines Through. Even for a band that has never knowingly hit a bum note in their career, Where the Light Shines Through shines particularly brightly. An exuberant, joyful romp through all the styles and genres they’ve dabbled with over their 20 plus year career, it’s almost impossible to fault. A top ten hit on the Billboard 200 and a number 1 chart topper on the Christian album chart, its stands as their very finest achievement.