To give fans a preview of the new material, Switchfoot released the downloadable single "Dirty Second Hands" to major online music stores on September 26. The album's first radio single, the title song "Oh! Gravity.", was released to radio on October 31, and received moderate airplay on alternative stations across America. In addition, the band provided free streaming audio of both the aforementioned tracks on their MySpace page.
The album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 18, as the second-highest debut of the week, selling 63,000 copies in its first week. As of June 2010, the album had sold 262,000+ copies.
The concept of Oh! Gravity. originally began as a short EP recording. "We weren't trying to achieve anything; we just set out to make music for ourselves," lead vocalist and principal songwriter Jon Foreman said of the process. Switchfoot, who tour heavily throughout the year, took a break in spring of 2006 between legs of the Nothing Is Sound Tour to record five or six song ideas with producer John Fields. During their time in the studio, the band found that they had more than enough time to record additional songs, and decided to put together a full-length LP, which they have called their most "sincere" effort yet.
Enlisting their A&R producer Steve Lillywhite, the band tracked the song "Awakening" and were enlivened by his fresh approach to recording. Lillywhite emphasized the "How does it make you feel?" approach to the process, "which felt great" according to Foreman. "We spent far more time rehearsing and refining the song than we did actually recording it... Don't press record until you get things right."
The rest of the record was produced by Tim Palmer, who Foreman described as possessing the uncanny ability to get "everyone out of their skins, where you begin to forget that the mics are there."
While the band's previous effort, 2005's Nothing Is Sound, was termed "darker," Oh! Gravity. represented a departure from that densely layered sound. It was an attempt to find the balance between "spit and polish" as Foreman said. "This one's got a lot more spit." As such, the album was lighter on the sonic layering, with less production elements than Nothing Is Sound or even The Beautiful Letdown, and carried a more pop direction, with new experimentation into areas the band had not previously explored, while also returning to their lo-fi indie roots. Topics explore living, time, coping with the death of a loved one, and, most dominantly, anti-materialism, particularly in the songs "American Dream" and "4:12," with the lyrics: "You begin to believe/that all we are is material/it's nonsensical."
On June 2 Switchfoot e-mailed a newsletter containing a free download of an unreleased song, "Daylight to Break," along with a statement from Tim Foreman implying that the band wanted to have a new album out by the end of the year, as well as thanking their fans for helping keep the band together for ten years. The recording of this album was rather public, as Switchfoot had set up a webcam in their recording studio, and also continued to keep fans updated via their podcasts. A contest was also conducted to give fans a chance to win an opportunity to be in the studio with the band to play cowbell on one of the tracks.
In early August, Switchfoot announced, "the album is done." By late September, the band had released the song "Dirty Second Hands" as a downloadable single to further promote the album. In early October, the band made the songs "Dirty Second Hands" and "Oh! Gravity" available for streaming on their MySpace page, the latter of which was serviced to Modern Rock radio as the lead single for the record. The entire album also "leaked" on MTV2.com in the week leading up to the album's official release. In addition, the band launched the website OhGravity.com, which featured the title track and YouTube clips that highlighted "gravity at its best" - mainly people falling while skateboarding, surfing, and participating in other similar activities. The website is no longer up.
In 2008, the album was nominated for a Dove Award for Rock/Contemporary Album of the Year at the 39th GMA Dove Awards. The song "Awakening" was also nominated for Rock/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year.
Pre-orders of "Oh! Gravity." from switchfoot.com came bundled with a three-song EP that the band recorded in the same studio sessions as "Oh! Gravity." The EP was first made available on October 17, 2006 at Switchfoot's live shows but became available online as well. It later became available separately on the Switchfoot online store.