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The Best Yet – Deluxe Edition
Time CD: 18 Tracks / 76 mins
Time DVD: 14Tracks / 60 mins
Like other bands that have had standout single CD releases, it is hard to get a ‘best-of’ collection that lives up to the title, short of re-issuing the entire high point album – in this case, The Beautiful Letdown – with an additional disc of extras. As it is, this collection includes six of that album’s 11 tracks. “More Than Fine” should also be there, and “Gone” is definitely an unwise omission from this compilation, as its original style and tongue-in-cheek tone would have added an aspect of the band not otherwise shown – even if just the second half were made into a hidden track at the very end, as a reprise to the whole disc. Otherwise, virtually all the expected tracks from other releases are present, such as “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” the rollicking “Awakening,” and “Dirty Second Hands,” making this a compilation full of consistently strong material.
One thing that the collection shows is the way that Jon Foreman can present deeply thought concepts in a fresh, inviting manner, where others could take the same ideas and make them either aggressive or dull. He throws out pithy wisdom as frequently as many churn out clichés, showing an evident joy in his poetic wordplay.
On “This is Your life” he observes with equal measures of warning and inspiration:
Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead / Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken ...
Today is all you’ve got now / And today is all you’ll ever have.
Don’t close your eyes / This is your life.
The hopes of every new generation and the ache of our inbuilt God-shaped hole are captured in the opening song:
We want more than this world’s got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life
We were meant to live.
The band has clearly tried to focus on their journey with this collection, including songs like “This Is Home” from the Narnia soundtrack, which is no standout, but reflects the importance of movies to their story.
The deluxe edition comes with a DVD that shares the same first four tracks as the CD. In both media, “Dare You to Move” sets out the band’s stall in every way, from the beach scenery (Switchfoot is a surfing term) to the way that the song agitates listeners towards moving forward in their lives. “Meant to Live” is the same promo video that found its way onto the end of the Live at Sam Diego DVD, although none of that live performance is included here. “Oh! Gravity”’s swirling collages bring that album’s cover art to life, drawing on its sketchy style. The video for “Stars” was shot both at night and underwater to give it a surreal, dreamy feel.
DVD tracks that are extra to the CD include “We Are One Tonight,” where the video ingeniously segues a myriad musical and everyday shots of people, including scenes where the band appear in disguise. Not only is it very cleverly assembled, but the speed of the cuts complements the pace of the track, and the concept actually enhances the meaning of the song – something you can’t always expect in music videos. “The Blues” is an easily overlooked track, which collates and collages hundreds of photos from three days on tour. Then we get a mid-disc lull with four videos that are older and less impressive, such as “New Way to Be Human” and “Chem 6A,” which go right back to the early days when Jon Foreman was young enough to be barely recognisable.
The difference between these and the video that follows, “Happy is a Yuppie Word,” is striking, both in sound and vision. This was the other track filmed underwater, and the evident budget matches the class of the music. Other videos include alternative versions of “Dare You to Move” and “Meant to Live;” one of their finer tracks, “Awakening,” where the visual fails to convey the song’s weight; and the poppy-chorused “Company Car.”
It’s often difficult to create a retrospective that keeps everyone happy. Switchfoot have more great songs than can fit on one or two discs, and they have got most of the songs right on the CD. Its running order is well compiled, too. Hampered perhaps by having a narrower range of material to choose from, the DVD tries too hard to show the whole story and is much patchier as a result, veering from amateur enthusiasm to corporate style-fest. The deluxe version with the video compilation should best suit most fans, who will have most of the audio songs anyway. Newcomers will have plenty to enjoy with either version.
The artist speaks:
Jon Foreman told Tollbooth
about the videos on The Best Yet: “My favorite two are probably two of
the ones we did on our own: “Company Car” and “Happy is a Yuppie Word.”
That one really caught the vision of the song for me. It’s ironic, because
all the other videos were Columbia’s money. For me, videos are a little
bit of an afterthought in the musical world; they’re a bit of an infomercial
for a band. I see them as just a really enjoyable, fun side, because when
writing a song, I’m not thinking visually, I’m just trying to hear it.
It feels like it (the video) comes along much later, and sometimes it can
be really incongruent with the music itself.”