Friday, 19 August 2011

Top 5 Christian Rock Albums: #5

So, whatever you define "Christian music" as, I'm a fan.

Q. What's better than music?

A. Music about Jesus.

Now I wouldn't say I was an ardent follower of the Christian music scene, or totally submerged in Christian culture, but I've listened to a fair amount of the stuff and now the time has come to blog my Top 5 Christian Rock Albums.

Note that by 'Christian Rock' I'm not talking about Creed and other vaguely-Christian-philosophy-based-heavily-distorted-guitars-screaming-yeah-yeah music, but I'm talking generally about music by Christian bands. And I'm doing a post on each, so here is...

#5 - The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot

This is probably the least explicitly Christian album in my list. I'm not sure the word 'god' is sung very much, if at all, which is strange for Christian rock. This is intentionally a very accessible piece of work. It's also very wonderful. If you want proof of both it's mainstream popularity and high quality, look no further than the Spiderman 2 movie soundtrack (UK version), which features Switchfoot's epic tune Meant to Live.

Meant to Live is my favourite track on this CD. The lyrics, whilst not explicit, are probably more powerful than most modern worship songs. The music is equally powerful; your speakers will turn themselves up if you don't, out of respect for the rockin'. As an opening track, Meant to Live sets the bar high.

The album challenges the listener throughout. If you imagine Jon Foreman is singing at you, it can be quite stirring at times. In This is Your Life he asks "are you who you want to be?" And the suddenly more laid-back groove gives you some space to ponder the question, if you don't get distracted by lots of ethereal, electronic noises.

The challenge becomes more direct in track 5, Dare You to Move, a song that should be played in the background every time an altar-call is made. Again, this is a powerful track, almost epic, in fact. Despite the gravitas, it is probably also one of the more uplifting tracks.

The crown of feel-good on this album goes, remarkably, to Switchfoot's song about death; Gone. The epitome of catchiness, Gone tells the story of a life spent of possessions and excitement, only to find it is all absolutely worthless. While the lyrics only briefly reveal the antidote to materialism ("every second that we borrow brings us closer to a God who's not short of cash"), the overwhelming cheerfulness of this song leads you to suspect that losing everything you ever owned is actually a good thing.

The title track, Beautiful Letdown, expands on the theme. This is a ballad about a personal experience, and I would venture a guess that the "letdown" frontman Jon is singing about has something to do with wealth, fame and success. Switchfoot are, after all, a very successful group. "Easy living", sings Jon, "you're not much like the name". Instead, he is determined to "carry a cross and a song where I don't belong".

The rest of this album is great, but those five songs make it number five in my list. Go on Spotify and give them a listen. Or just buy it. In summary, these guys are like rocking sages who cram a truckload of godly wisdom into some banging tunes. What could top it?

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