Album: Vice Verses
It is difficult to put a band like Switchfoot in a proverbial box. With 7 full length records and a greatest hits collection since their debut in 1997, expectations have been enormously high for the follow up to 2009's Grammy award winning record "Hello Hurricane". While HH was a very well written record, it somewhat polarized fans. Those who loved it swore by it's clever instrumentation and more experimental vibes; yet there remained a fragment of the fanbase that longed for a return to a more guitar-driven-arena-rock record like Nothing is Sound" (2005). Even though "Oh, Gravity" (2006) and "Hello Hurricane" had a few songs that channeled the sound that made them famous with the song "Meant to Live", these records seemed more like fun side projects than an actual follow up to "The Beautiful Letdown" and "Nothing is Sound".
So now we have "Vice Verses", one of the best records Switchfoot has ever released. Building on the huge sound of "Nothing is Sound" combined with the emotional and lyrical rawness of "Hello Hurricane" and Jon Foreman's solo ep's; "Vice Verses" explores themes of death, life and renewal through the concept of the constant battles we face in life. "I am the war inside, I am the battle line, I am the rising tide, I am the war I fight." ("The War Inside"). Foreman's writing has never been so potent as now. "Restless" depicts a soul searching for God "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 the hypocrites../ I am restless, looking for you." "Thrive" and "Vice Verses" channel Foreman's solo writing style, while "Selling the News" is a welcome journey into new territory for Switchfoot as Foreman speaks rather than sings the verses. The album opener and closer "Afterlife" and "Where I Belong" bookend the record well, pondering life after death. And these are just a few that I chose to mention. The songwriting is solid from beginning to end.
"Dark Horses" was the first single released from "Vice Verses" and while I loved the song, I find that it gets overshadowed by vastly superior songs. This is one record that I had high expectations for, and Switchfoot has delivered. Every song is deep. Every song makes you think. Every song is well written, produced and performed. Don't miss out on one of 2011's best albums so far.