On their latest album, Vice Verses, Switchfoot have perfected their new style. In many ways, this album has great similarity to their last album, Hello Hurricane, but with a sound that has been perfected and refined.
Many bands struggle to reinvent their sound, while still keeping their fan base, but over the span of 8 albums and 15 years, the band seems to do so well, and adds exciting and fresh new music with each release.
That being said, in no way was Hello Hurricane a bad album. It was very much a concept album, but with the combination of its commercial success and a Grammy, it seems as though Switchfoot decided to not only stick with the concept sound, but also do one better by perfecting it on Vice Verses. The album will be enjoyed by all who enjoyed HH, and the incredibly poetic lyrics of Jon Foreman, which continue to get better with time, are at an all-time best on Vice Verses.
The album opens with a heavily guitar-driven track in “Afterlife,” which features the flashy guitar riffs Switchfoot have become so well known for. This track sounds like a hit, because in many ways, it sounds like a reinvented and re-stylized version of the 2003 smash-hit that sent the band to the top, “Meant to Live.” The song is intense, exciting, and a very memorable part of this album.
First single “Dark Horses” essentially follows the same format, and is one of the few songs on this album that has that Switchfoot-trademarked sound that sticks with them regardless of a change in sound. Even if one had no idea that this was the trademark sound, this song is masterfully crafted and was the obvious choice for a first hit.
Third track “The War Inside” is new ground for Switchfoot, featuring some synth-beat related work, but is a surprisingly refreshing twist on the band’s style. This song is great because it combines what the band is known for with this element to make an incredibly different-sounding but flawlessly created track.
Jon Foreman is easily one of the most complex and brilliant lyricists in music today, and he stays consistent with that on this album. “Blinding Light” is a lyrical best, with lyrics like, “Hey boy/ We’re a nation that eats our youth,” and “Hey Girl/Be yourself now/Your skin is more than a pin-up suit.” Foreman fearlessly attacks pop culture in a way that isn’t preachy, rather complex and thought-provoking.
The fast-paced, almost spoken word-type verses in “Selling the News” are another example of Foreman’s lyrical genius and ingenuity. These verses are excellently created, but perhaps one of the best factors is the delivery, which has a shameless intensity to it. The song features an equally hard-hitting chorus, which ends with, “The fact is fiction/ Suspicion is a new religion.”
Vice Verses, both lyrically and musically, is in no way disappointing. In continuation from 2009’s hit album, Hello Hurricane, the band has made an album that reinvents, while making something that longtime fans and new fans alike should enjoy. Switchfoot continues to show that they are so much more than “Meant to Live.”