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Learning to Breathe - Click to view! New Way to Be Human was 1999's summer-defining, industry-consuming heavyweight, and Switchfoot's latest steps in where it left off. Keeping human ways "new," and every day fresh are the themes of Learning to Breathe, an unconquerable, but not necessarily advanced, project. Rummaging through common tensions and feelings, "I Dare You to Move" awakens to redemption with a tight, nippy band backup. The title track looks past self-realization to God-realization, employing a textured melody that falls a bit flat on the chorus. Keenly expanding on the wonder of everyday forgiveness, the first of the Jacquire King-produced tracks, "You Already Take Me There," transfixes listeners with steely bass lines, and crusty, distorted guitar. An unmanageable barrage of noise and voices (including gospel artist Darwin Hobbs) sway to "Love is the Movement," a smooth, groovin' dance that definitely stands out on Learning to Breathe. Frontman Jon Foreman's droll humor is woven into "Poparazzi," an absurd ditty mourning how cheese-pop is so catchy. Between the merriment and moderation lies "Innocence Again," a 70s-styled song that grapples with the identity of self. "Playing for Keeps" tries to make sense of the give-and-take nature in relationships, even as track eight speculates on one called "The Loser." Illimitable and beaming, "The Economy of Mercy" gasps at the Lord who got us this far despite humanity's bruises. Flipping gears from 'neutral` to 'overdrive` in a matter of seconds, Switchfoot's "Erosion" cracks the hardest of hearts with a revelation that the Spirit crumbles us to make room for Himself. The "I need a second shot again" bridge of this track is a moment where you hear the improved brilliance of these twenty-something guys. Self-produced, the finale reckons that "Living is Simple" in some fitting lines about doubts and choices. Both unsettled and unmoved, Learning to Breathe greets the sunrise with a smile, and rocks with an all-embracing message that audiences need to hear. "We don't have to slow back down."
- Josh M. Shepherd
October 2000
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