Switchfoot‘s iconic album The Beautiful Letdown was on the brink of never getting released. This beloved fan favorite and personal favorite nearly suffered the fate of many before it of hitting a shelf never to see the light of day. To think, a top album in Christian musics history, maybe Top 25 all-time. Personally, I cannot imagine a world without it. The album and its songs of struggle, doubt, faith and longing is a foundational one for me, and I know I’m not the only one.

In this retrospective post I wanted to go through track-by-track and give a few notes/memories of each song. It released on February 25, 2003 when I would have been twenty-one and a junior in college. I was able to see them perform a majority of album Live on tour at least once, maybe twice. Because of that, it was and remains an important album in my life, and I don’t think they’ve topped its brilliance yet.

Here’s my full review of their newly, (May 5, 2023) released “our version.”

Also, few words from the band themselves on what it took for TBL to even see the light of day: Twitter 🧵

Here we go!

1. “Meant to Live”

This song is a perfect album opener and contender for one of their best songs overall. It’s message of longing for more, set to crunchy guitars is a great combo and kicks things off on a high note. I’ve played this song countless times and I’m still not sick of it twenty years later. Favorite Lyric is, “dreaming about providence/and whether mice or men have second tries.” This song continues to be a concert staple and crowd favorite to this day.

5 Stars

2. “This Is Your Life”

Slowing things a bit after such a rocking opener, this song takes a soaring approach in the chorus utilizing keyboard sounds to eerie effect. Keeping with the theme of “Meant To Live” the band asks the challenging question, “this is your life/are you who you wanna be?” Foreman pushes his voice to its breaking/cracking point which only serves to add emotional fuel for the fire.

5 Stars

3. “More Than Fine”

Programmed drums and acoustic guitar carry “More Than Fine,” as Foreman pleads to be, “more than fine/more than bent on getting by/more than fine/more than just okay.” It would be easy to skip by this one but it’s a perfect segue to pick back up the pace while staying on the theme of longing for more. It’s sets up the two following songs perfectly.

5 Stars

4. “Ammunition”

Crisp drums further amp things back up here pace wise as the song adds piano and electric guitars to a full-out driving roar. The raw throated yelp that Jon uses throughout serves the urgency of the song well. The bridge has my favorite lyric, “Look what a mess we’ve made of love/Look what a mess we’ve made/We’ve got ourselves to blame.

4.5 Stars

5. “Dare You To Move”

For my money, this is Switchfoot’s greatest song of their storied career. Please tell me you’ve heard it and you love it, otherwise go listen again until you can find something to appreciate about it. (Not bossy just serious) The bridge is my favorite part of a perfect song where we hear the lines, “maybe redemption has stories to tell/maybe forgiveness is right where you fell/where can you run to escape from yourself/where you gonna go?/where you gonna go?/redemption is here.” I may not ever follow through and get a tattoo but the phrase “Dare you to Move” is a contender.

5 Stars

6. “Redemption”

A lesser known song from the album this has always been a favorite for me because of the lyrics, “I’ve got my hands at redemptions side/whose scars are bigger than these doubts of mine.” These lyrics have ministered to me countless times over the years. Don’t skip this one!

5 Stars

7. “The Beautiful Letdown”

A real slow burn of a song, it’s still enjoyable because of the conclusion that as believers in Christ we ultimately don’t belong here, and the things we are so quick to chase will never satisfy the ache in our soul. The thesis of an entire albums worth of songs full of longing, yearning, and divine discontent. Based off of the first few Switchfoot album but New Way to Be Human and TBL it’s clear Foreman is a deep reader and thinker of classics like C.S. Lewis, Augustine, Kierkegaard, and John Steinbeck.

5 Stars

8. “Gone”

Tone wise, this tune the least like everything else on the album. “Gone” is a nice lighthearted sounding change of pace. This is an amazing listen, especially live as you can really hear the layered harmonic vocals. As the groove and the electric guitar play off of each other and then crunch together in the bridge it ends with playful lyrics about “gone/like Frank Sinatra/like Elvis and his mom/like Al Pacino’s cash/nothing lasts in this life.

5 Stars

9. “On Fire”

A beautiful and worshipful song of praise to God saying, “When everything inside me looks like everything I hate/you are the hope I have for change/You are the only chance I’ll take.

5 Stars

10. “Adding to the Noise”

The only song on the album I’m tempted to skip it’s still a fun upbeat tune that reminds me of tunes from their first three albums.

4 Stars

11. “Twenty-Four”

I absolutely LOVE to roll down the windows in my car and belt this song as loud as I can. This is a great end to a iconic album that stands up to the test of time very well. It’s also a shared favorite for my wife and and I to sing along to together so that’s just an additional layer to add to its goodness.

5 Stars

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

Well, I hope you enjoyed revisiting what I believe to be an all-time album of the Christian music genre. I’d love to hear your thoughts or memories from the track list. Happy listening!

Other Switchfoot posts: Every Switchfoot Song Ranked (Updated), Switchfoot: Top 20 Songs Ranked, Ranking Switchfoot Albums (Updated 2022)

Hoping I can own this one on vinyl someday!