Here it is, the highly anticipated album of 2011 Switchfoot's "Vice Verses". The second from the group since leaving Columbia Records and moving to their own lowercase people. A move I highly agree with after their amazing release of "Hello Hurricane" in 2009.
"Vice Verses" is exactly what I was looking for, a continuation of their last album mixed with some hints of old and yet some stretching musically into other creative avenues.
Frontman Jon Foreman on the title of the album: "The whole thing is about polarity. We wanted to write about the polarity of what it means to be human, the lights and darks. I'm always intrigued by the tension that exists between life and death." The twelve tracks sum it up well with a lot of ups and downs both musically and lyrically.
The first track "Afterlife" begins with guitar only as Foreman enters. An almost classic sounding Switchfoot and a great way to start off the album. "The War Inside" has an almost "The Sound" beginning to it. Listen carefully because it's got a very unique and addictive music track.
Song four "Restless" has a rock worship feel to it that could have been sung by Bono. I just had to play the end of the song a few more times because it's that good. "Blinding Light" is a song about searching for hope and finding it "Deep down there's a hope inside / You got wings but you're scared to fly / wake up, wake up".
The sixth track "Selling the News" is a commentary on the sensationalism of, well, the news: "Substance, oh substance where have you been / you've been replaced by the masters of spin". "Selling the News" definitely stands out with Foreman speaking, not singing, the verses. I can already see the music video of Foreman in a news room or war zone reporting/performing this song.
Can't get your fill of hard hitting vocals and blazing guitars, then play "Dark Horses". One of the coolest rock songs I've heard in a while. I'll be playing this one too much, way too much and way too loud. So will you.
"Souvenirs" is a beautiful track with great lyrics "These are my souvenirs / the memory of a lifetime". "Rise Above It" is a fun song that is slightly different and changes up in a lot of places throughout the song. Very fun lyrically also: "Just because you're present doesn't mean that you're here".
Title track eleven "Vice Verses" is one of the best songs on the album and an instant classic. It contrasts life and death in a very thoughtful and memorable way: "You got your babies / I got my hearses / Every blessing comes with it's set of curses". And in true Switchfoot fashion gives you a lot to think about.
The final song "Where I Belong" is a good wrap of the album. It has a mid tempo 'good feeling' anthem to it that makes you want to replay the album all over again. So I did.
Switchfoot's "Vice Verses" has exceeded my expectations. A perfectly executed album with loads of 'classics in the makings'. No trendy synths or unnecessary auto-tune here, just straight up rock, pure and thoughtful, what Switchfoot does best. And when they're at their best, they're amazing.
By: Kevin Thorson