Switchfoot - Vice Verses album review

by - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

currently: LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this album.

Originally I wanted to post up this review of the album as soon as I had written it. But of course, I prefer to wait at least till Friday to post it because I write these reviews for debate Magazine. This review was actually written before the album's official release. I originally hoped to had the album by the Monday 25th, but my music guy told me it got delayed :( So I ended up streaming everything online, breaking my own "I'm gonna listen to the entire album when it's released!"
But who cares now. I LOVE this album. My favourite album for the year - for sure.

I have to say though, at the moment I saw this album cover a few months ago - I was ready to dislike the album and be super tough on them for it. Why would you go and do a sharpie/marker drawing for an album cover? In the history of Switchfoot covers - it had to be one of the worst.
But I've changed my mind. I'm open now to it's boldness having heard this album. I embrace it's simpleness. I just love this album. Review away!

Switchfoot – Vice Verses
Rating: A



Californian rock band, Switchfoot, have been in the game of music for almost 15 years. By this stage, one would hope that they would know what the difference is between making a bad song and making a good song. Thankfully, Switchfoot have gotten this down to a precise art. Their latest album, Vice Verses, is twelve track album filled with gritty guitars, solid drumming and poetic lyrics that satisfy any tortured rock loving soul.
First track, Afterlife, opens up the album with the fantastic crunching of guitars. As that pulls you in, lead singer Jon Foreman starts to sing “I’ve tasted fire; I’m ready to come alive.” The guitars bring a real roughness to the sound, and with the addition of the solid drum beat, it grabs your attention and sets a bold tone for the album. Most of this album is heavily guitar dependant, especially with the louder rock tracks. 
Another strong heavy rock track is the song Dark Horses. With an intro full of gritty and distorted electric guitars, the aggression makes you want to start cheering on any underdog. Accompanied again with some solid drumming, subtle bass notes, and emotionally empowering lyrics in the chorus, the song screams at you to pay attention. I could see this type of song sitting nicely in any sport/action movie soundtrack.
One of the oddest additions to Vice Verses is the track Selling the News. No band usually thinks about using beatnik verses on a rock album. However Switchfoot dared to stretch their sound to include this, with the vocals passionately speaking about the media consumed society like an aggressive poem. With this contrasted with the sung chorus and bridge, and driven with its strong rhythm, the result works surprisingly well, creating a fusion between spoken word and alternative rock. 
The strengths in this album are more in the slower and more melodic tracks than the heavier rock. Songs such as Restless, Blinding Light, Thrive and (my favourite track) Souvenirs are all memorable and even paced songs, written with heart-tugging lyrics and moving harmonies. However, one track that must be mentioned is the final song on the album, Where I Belong. Longer than other tracks on the album, this final piece sets off a dream like melody accompanied by soft echoes of a harmonious vocals. The drumming and bass act like a strong and steady heartbeat through the song, and the guitars add in playful accents every once in a while. But the combination of the vocals and lyrics are the highlight of this piece, where one verse that sings “This skin and bones is a rental, and no one makes it out alive” is painfully memorable. As the song finishes with the words “I still can believe we can live forever now”, this track has all the elements working fantastically together.
The only (minor) letdown in this album is the track The Original, which in all irony, doesn’t sound very original and doesn’t sound as polished as the other tracks. The vocals feel a bit too forced with the sing/screaming and the melody feeling a bit generic, giving a sense of déjà vu to Switchfoot’s earlier music back in the early 2000s.
Overall, Switchfoot’s latest offering is well crafted, with inspiring lyrics and fantastic melodies. Vice Verses successfully combines all the elements of a rock album, and stretches the boundaries and expectations of their music. Over the 15 years of this band’s existence, this eighth album is a true testament to their success and longevity.



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4 comments

  1. I agree with what you said about The Original! it does sound like it should be on Learning to Breathe...it reminds me of Poparazzi and You Already Take Me There. Did you not think the lyrics to the chorus of Souvenirs was kind of cliche? I loved the verses though. And for some reason the the chorus of Blinding Light reminded me of One Repblic's "Secrets". But overall, I was super impressed with this album! Those were my thoughts, anyway.

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  2. Oh I never thought bout the Blinding Light/Secrets comparison. Sense it now though. And yeah, the lyrics on Souvenirs are on the cliche side, like "nothing lasts forever" I've heard on hundreds of songs. But that track just makes me feel darn good lol. Can't make Switchfoot musical magic any way cliche haha.

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  3. Yeah and the whole "we were so young, we had no fear" just seemed so familiar. But nevertheless, it's switchfoot and I'll eventually love all of it, cliches aside!

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  4. I think my favourite line in Souvenirs is "We were so young, we had no idea that life was just happening".

    I think simple but deep lines like that make me fall in love with Switchfoot all over again hahah :P

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