Switchfoot – Vice Verses

By Joshua Hedlund on September-26-2011 | Filed under Reviews | Share

Switchfoot – Vice Verses
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
4.6 (54 votes)

Artist: Switchfoot
Title: Vice Verses
Label: Credential Recordings / lowercasepeople
Release Date: 9/27/2011
Reviewer: Joshua Hedlund

Tracklisting:

  1. Afterlife
  2. The Original
  3. The War Inside
  4. Restless
  5. Blinding Light
  6. Selling The News
  7. Thrive
  8. Dark Horses
  9. Souvenirs
  10. Rise Above It
  11. Vice Verses
  12. Where I Belong

Jon Foreman and the gang have been going at it for fourteen years now with seven full-length albums to their name, along with a smattering of EPs, solo efforts, side projects, and soundtrack contributions. The boys look like rugged and (dare I say?) middle-aged rock and rollers with their long hair, beards, and leather jackets. Could their eighth album have anything left to say?

Absolutely.

Like Hello Hurricane two years ago, Vice Verses opens with the tease of guitar feedback, but the song quickly roars out of the gate, making it clear that this is a more energetic version of Switchfoot then we met the last time around. “Afterlife” feels more like “Lonely Nation” or “Stars” from Nothing Is Sound – from the fervent guitar riffs right down to the piano accents. Jon Foreman unloads his challenging, purposeful lyrics: Every day / A choice is made / Every day / I choose my fate / And I wonder why would I wait till I die to come alive…. I’m ready now, I’m not waiting for the afterlife!

The tension between the purpose of this life and the next has been an undercurrent running through Switchfoot’s themes for more than a decade, but the contrast has never been sharper. “Dark Horses” is another distortion-heavy anthem that we haven’t seen from Switchfoot in a few years. “Blinding Light” and “Restless” fill in as requisite power ballads rescued by strong lyrics: I am the thorn stuck in your side / I am the one that you left behind / I am the dried-up doubting eyes / Looking for the well that won’t run dry / Running hard for the other side / The world that I’ve always been denied / Running hard for the infinite / With the tears of the saints and hypocrites.

“The Original” is almost a nod to MuteMath with its tambourines and shuffling bass lines, though I might argue that “No one else can do it – free yourself” is only half true (no other human can set you free, but you can’t do it in your own strength). “Rise Above It” has a bouncy vibe reminiscent of “4:12″ or “Burn Out Bright” from Oh! Gravity. “The War Inside” is another upbeat rock groove with Foreman tackling our inner nature: I get the feeling that we’re living in sci-fi / I get the feeling that our weapons are lo-fi / Ain’t no killer like pride / No killer like I / No killer like what’s inside.

Foreman delivers a scathing rebuke of modern media with an unexpected spoken cadence in “Selling the News” (think Skillet’s “Looking For Angels” but with a lot more urgency on the verses). I’m still not sure how well it works, but it’s definitely something new for Switchfoot, and out of the entire album the catchy chorus has been most often stuck in my head: I wanna believe you, I wanna believe, but everything here’s in between / The fact is fiction! / The fact is fiction!

From the subtle grooving “Thrive” to the Goo-Goo-Dolls-y “Souvenirs,” we float through the album until we get to the subdued acoustics of the thematic “Vice Verses.” It almost feels like an album closer in the vein of “Daisy” or “Let Your Love Be Strong,” but this is not the end.

Finally, we get to “Where I Belong,” a semi-epic closer that is over a minute and a half longer than any song from Switchfoot’s previous seven albums. The sweeping cathartic nature reminds me of the classic “Twenty-four” from The Beautiful Letdown, but with even more power, passion, and – yes – group vocals. I still believe we can live forever, the band declares, echoing a phrase from the opening song with a finality that is a fitting summary of not only this album, but all the ones before it. Yes, Foreman seems to say, I’m challenging you to join me in changing this world and making the most of it (I’m not waiting for the afterlife), but I also know where I truly belong, my true home that gives all the meaning to this temporary one. I’m not sentimental / This skin and bones is a rental / And no one makes it out alive / Until I die I’ll sing these songs / On the shores of Babylon / Still looking for a home / In a world where I belong / Where the weak are finally strong / Where the righteous right the wrongs / Still looking for a home / In a world where I belong.

Overall: This is the face of Switchfoot in a new decade. It’s the dark rock vibe of Nothing Is Sound meeting the anthemic ballads of Hello Hurricane with a little bit of the experimental spunk of Oh! Gravity mixed in, and this might be the band’s most cohesive release since The Beautiful Letdown. We know where Switchfoot has come from and where they are going as they challenge us to embrace the tensions of life through their matured rock and roll sound that is equal parts passionate energy and confident restraint. Let’s go boys, play it loud…

Switchfoot - Vice Verses, 4.6 out of 5 based on 54 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Joshua Hedlund

About the author Joshua Hedlund

I like listening to music and trying to promote the stuff I like (@joshuahedlund), and sometimes I play piano and try to write stuff (I just picked up the accordion!). I married my lovely bride Emily in October 2010. We want to be a RYFO house one day but for now just support bands through going to shows and doing interviews and whatever else we can! View all posts by Joshua Hedlund

30 Responses to 'Switchfoot – Vice Verses'

  1. Nice review though I wouldn’t say there’s a dark vibe with this album at all. On the contrary, a friend of mine and I agree that it’s very uplifting. A lot of the songs have such a happy upbeat feel to them, especially on the first half of the album. I have to say, I’ve been pretty blown away by this. I’m not sure where it stands so far but the first 4 songs are among their greatest and ‘Selling the News’ is so insanely catchy. I had the chorus stuck in my head after just one listen. Also, guitars are big in ‘The Original’ and ‘Afterlife’, love it.

    ‘The War Inside’ is probably my new favorite Switchfoot song. One thing I love about this band, they are great at creating rock anthems and, in particular, anthems for the youth of this generation to get behind. I absolutely can’t wait to see them live this Saturday playing these songs!

  2. Daniel H. says:

    I totally agree about the cohesive aspect. They did a great job of keeping all of the themes constant throughout the album.

    And “Selling the News” is awesome! I hope they do more songs like that in the future.

  3. jonathan.b says:

    When I listened to this album the first time through I felt like the album was a little bit of every album since learning to breathe. I very much enjoy it. Solid song writing and good production; there weren’t any awkward or sudden transitions between songs.

  4. Joe M says:

    Thanks for the review! I enjoyed hearing your perspective on the album. I am hoping this one is a grower for me. I’ve been listening to the espn stream for the last week (about 5-7 full listens), will definitely buy the album tomorrow and am going to see them on Friday, but still can’t really get into this album. I love much of SF’s previous material, most notably the Beautiful Letdown, Hello Hurricane and Nothing is Sound.

    So far, I feel like the slower material (Restless, Vice Verses) haven’t quite caught me. I absolutely love Afterlife, The Original, Selling the News, and Dark Horses, but feel indifferently toward the rest. All that to say I appreciate the fact that Switchfoot isn’t resting on their laurels and continues to innovate and experiment, but in my opinion, didn’t really connect on this one. I am hoping that as I listen more, it does; but those are my thoughts at present. :)

  5. Eko says:

    great review. I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about the album still. On one hand it’s very abrasive musically yet in another way it feels like their most radio friendly/mainstream album yet. But those last two tracks are flippin phenomenal.

  6. JimmyT says:

    Switchfoot rocks, loving the new album, Awesome music and amazing lyrics. Favourite songs so far are Afterlife, Dark horses and Where i belong! Still a bit upset that ‘Against the Voices’ didn’t make it, but here’s hoping its on the next album :)

  7. BBanet says:

    Why is it that I love Jon Foreman so undeniably much? Hmmmmm….oh yeah. It’s because he writes songs such as “Souvenirs” and “Vice Versus” to make my Tuesday afternoon on September 27 so lovely. :)
    I can’t get past those two songs to even give the rest of the album much of a chance. “Souvenirs” is slowly moving up to be in my list of favorite Switchfoot songs of all time and, believe me, that is quite the list of tunes.

    • Interesting. ‘Souvenirs’ is the one song I could do without on the album and that’ll possibly keep it from becoming one of my top favorite SF albums. Maybe it’ll grow on me but it’s largely forgettable at the moment. I’ll keep spinning this and trying though. ‘Vice Verses’ is definitely a powerful song.

    • Lucas says:

      That is interesting. “Souvenirs” has kind of been a dark horse (no pun intended) on the record for me. It was one of the few songs in the final track listing i hadn’t heard of and first listen through it wasn’t incredible. But now it’s one of my favorites.. it’s a really powerful song for sure. :)

    • BBanet says:

      Yeah, I don’t know why it grew on me so much, but it did. Maybe I’m just strange. Haha.

  8. Lucas says:

    I’ve listened through multiple times now and it’s great. Although I haven’t decided where exactly it ranks with the rest of their albums, I’ve already decided it’s better than Hello Hurricane (which is an achievement) and maybe even Nothing Is Sound (which is a greater achievement). I definitely agree with the reviewer that this might be the band’s most cohesive release since The Beautiful Letdown. Also “The War Inside” is easily one of the top Switchfoot songs of all time. Easily.

    • Fully agree. And if and when ‘Souvenirs’ clicks with me it’ll have a chance to top my 2 favorite SF albums, NIS and O!G. For right now it’s moved up to #3 just past Hello Hurricane. I liked that album but it was a bit too uneven for me and didn’t have as much lasting appeal. Hopefully this one does.

  9. NateDaggishe says:

    Their best album ever. Flat out. I’m definitely back into Switchfoot again. Rock on. Every song kills.

  10. Eko says:

    5th/4th best behind TBL, NIS, HH, tied with LtB

  11. linds4lif says:

    Hmm I like this album but there are songs I could do without meaning it has been bumped down on my list of favorite SF album list.

    I don’t like ” Restless”, “Souvenirs”, or “Where I Belong” . Most of the slow songs just were…not good too me.
    Then “Blinding light” and “Vice verses” were just okay to me

    I loved “Selling The News”, “Thrive”, “Afterlife”, “The Original”, “Dark Horses”, “The War Inside”, and “Rise Above It”.

    1. TBL
    2. NIS
    3. HH
    =3. O!G (a tie)
    4. V V
    5. LTB
    6. NWTBH
    7. TLOC

  12. Saw them live on Saturday and I have to say ‘The War Inside’ is my new favorite song live. They also played Afterlife, Dark Horses, Where I Belong and Restless which were all amazing.

  13. A 9 i a lil extreme, i wuda given it a 7, but i thot hh was an 8.

  14. andkaz7 says:

    did anyone feel like they recycled some lyrical phrasing from past albums?

  15. lowercasepeople says:

    Interesting comments. I’ve been with switchfoot through it all, from The legend of chin to the present, and I see two elite songs on this album. Souvenirs, and Where I belong. The rest, in my opinion, are very good (save thrive) but not elite like songs: daisy, 24, meant to live, or learning to breathe. And I’m not crazy about restless…not sure why it’s a single.

    1. Nothing Is Sound
    2. Learning To Breathe
    3. The Beautiful letdown
    4. New Way To Be Human
    5. Hello Hurricane
    6. Vice Versus
    7. Oh! Gravity
    8. The Legend Of Chin

    • Tim says:

      Daisy is the reason I haven’t bought a Switchfoot album since Nothing Is Sound. I would definitely not call it an elite song!

    • Aw, sorry you don’t like Daisy, Tim!

      Daisy, Let it go
      Open up your fist
      This fallen world
      Doesn’t hold your interest
      It doesn’t hold your soul
      Daisy, let it go

      Beautiful ;)

    • Lucas says:

      How anyone could dislike Daisy (especially so much as to not buy another SF album because of it) is beyond me. But to each his own I guess. I still think that song is incredible. The above lyrics Joshua posted have had an impact on me perhaps more than any of their others. (along with “The Beautiful Letdown”, “Shadow Proves the Sunshine”, and most recently “Selling the News”)

  16. Marshall says:

    I love “Selling The News” , “The Originals” and “Thrive”. All the Songs they speak to me in every-way :D ROCK ON SWITCHFOOT!!!

  17. JimmyT says:

    Saw Switchfoot in Brisbane last night, amazing!
    They played Afterlife, Restless, The War Inside, Dark Horses and Where I Belong, plus heaps from the previous albums.
    Best live show i have ever seen, The War Inside is a great song, but 10 times better live. Jon went walkabouts through the crowd in restless. And then they finished with The Sound, which has always been an awesome song, but i think its now my favourite.
    Sorry to comment on such an old post.

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