What to say about Switchfoot? Well there is a lot, but I will try to sum it up since most likely you have heard of these guys in some shape or form before. Switchfoot has gone from a humble start to mainstream stardom as a multi-platinum and Grammy award-winning band. Vice Verses is the 8th full-length release from this San Diego band. Their musical talent is outstanding, and the band has just kept getting better and better over time as they have built up their very impressive catalog.
Vice Verses starts off with a bang with the strong rocker Afterlife.” The guys start things off right with a great opener and a powerful message of not being complacent but making the most of your life here and now
“Every day a choice is made/ Every day I choose my fate/And I wonder Why would I wait ’til I die to come alive/ I’m ready now I’m not waiting for the afterlife”
If nothing else the pace picks up for the next track “The Original.” This is a fun energetic track that represents the rock sound that Switchfoot knows well. This song reminds people feeling down about themselves that we all have a unique identity and that we are the only ones who can be ourselves.
“The War Inside” features some sped-up lyrics almost semi-rapped by vocalist Jon Foreman. It is a very catchy track with some great instrumental work that dwells on our inner nature as humans and that war occurring inside of us.
When I first heard “Restless” on the radio I thought this was a boring track and not as strong as some of the band’s other work. Yes it is a fairly simple ballad but this song has a ton of emotion and some powerful lyrics that describe our relentless journey and desire to pursue God:
I’ll be waiting/Anticipating/All that I aim for/What I was made for/With every heartbeat/All of my blood bleeds/Running inside me/Looking for you/I am restless I am restless/I am restless looking for you/I am restless I run like the ocean to find your shore/I’m looking for you
The next track “Blinding Light ” was a bit of a let down compared to the other strong tracks off the album. The lyrical work is strong talking about our true purpose and what defines us in this life. It’s an alright ballad but by no means one of the band’s best and it just falls flat stacked up to others on this album.
“Selling The News” is one of the most unique and diverse tracks the band has ever done. This is something totally different for Switchfoot. Jon does a mix of talking on the verses and sings a ridiculously catchy chorus. The lyrics are extremely honest as corruption in the media is brought to the forefront. This track may take some time to get used to but I think they pulled it off really well.
“Thrive” is a laid-back ballad that talks about finding significance and meaning in this life. This song also touches on the theme of living for something more which is a common theme through a lot of Switchfoot’s music.
Up next is one of my favorite tracks off the album “Dark Horses.” This is a rock anthem with some catchy riffs and chorus you will be shouting along to in no time:
“We’re singing/Hey you can’t count us out/We’ve been running up against the crowd/Yeah we are the dark horses/We’re singing/Wait! It’s not over now/We’ve been down but we’ve never been out/Yeah we are the dark horses”
The whole theme of this track is that it is an anthem for the underdogs in life. Foreman says the inspiration for this track was an organization called Stand Up For Kids which helps out the homeless or at-risk kids in San Diego.
“Souvenirs” starts off slow and then picks up into a midpaced rocker by the song’s end. This song is a reflective song about looking back on your life and those memories you cherish.
“Rise Above It” is another rocker about struggling through the small mundane things in life and to instead rise above all of that and make your life something worth living.
As the album starts to wind to a close we have two of the most powerful tracks on the album to go out with. The title track has you pondering some of life’s big questions trying to make sense of it all. It is a very thought-provoking and honest track accompanied by a beautiful acoustic backdrop.
“I know that there’s a meaning to it all/A little resurrection every time I fall/You got your babies I got my hearses/Every blessing comes with a set of curses/I got my vices I got my vice verses/I got my vice verses”
When it would seem like the title-track was a perfect album closer the band doesn’t stop there. The album ends with an epic closer “Where I Belong.” This track is filled with passion and emotion which results in it being one powerful track. This song clocks in at nearly seven minutes talking about finding that perfect home one day and the place where we truly belong. This song has quickly become one of my favorites by the band.
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
So the big question is how does this stack up to Switchfoot’s past releases? Well the answer will be different for everyone but for me it falls somewhere in the middle.
Hello Hurricane and The Beautiful Letdown lead the pack as my favorites but Vice Verses comes in somewhere after those two. This album shows growth musically lyrically and spiritually. It’s the same band their trademark sound but this seems like a great continuation from Hello Hurricane where the band is making the music that Switchfoot is meant to make. The riffs are still unique and engaging the rhythm section from the bass and drums is great and the vocals are as good as they ever have been. This album clearly shows the heart of the band as they pour themselves into each track on this release. It’s a very honest and transparent album where the guys hold nothing back; they make it very clear who they are as a band.
Vice Verses is a journey that varies from enjoyable rockers to laid-back ballads. Jon Foreman’s writing brings out both the aches and pain we encounter through life. But these songs give us hope to never give up and to make this existence here on Earth worthwhile until we get to that place where we belong. This is one album you don’t want to pass on. The music and lyrics are stunning and you could relate the message on any of these tracks to your own life. The guys give you some music to rock with along with hope and the challenge to make this life you’re given worth living. This release is enjoyable start to finish and another great album to add to your Switchfoot collection.