"Vice Verses is a record of tension and release. It’s an attempt to describe the polarity of the human experience. The sunlight and shadow. The highs and lows, laughter and pain, hope and fear, doubts and belief," says lead singer/guitarist Jon Foreman. "Vice Verses is soul music – attempting to get to the heart of the human experience: Living in the tension and turning it into song."
It’s that very uneasiness – an unwillingness to choose the treadmill over the triathlon – that fuels the band’s forays into new musical territory and Jon Foreman’s unflinchingly honest lyrics. Songs like "Afterlife" and "The War Inside" take the harder-edged approach of their previous release, Hello Hurricane a step further, creating what Billboard has called "powerful, anthemic rockers…like an amalgamation of U2’s ‘Achtung Baby,’ Linkin Park." Overall, Vice Verses is a more eclectic collection than its predecessor with quiet gems like "Souvenirs" and the title track next to the infectious "The Original," reminiscent of Foo Fighters, and the biting, largely spoken-word "Selling the News." The rousing lead single "Dark Horses" makes abundantly clear, we were designed to transcend, to stand up against the darkness.
Working with producer Neal Avron (Weezer, Linkin Park) and executive producer Mike Elizondo (Eminem, 50 Cent, Pink, Maroon 5 and Fiona Apple), the band recorded most of Vice Verses in their San Diego, CA home studio.
"The art comes from the awkward ache. The knot in my stomach usually teaches me more than comfort ever could. The sculptor’s chisel carves away at the block to bring something new into being. In the same way, we hammer away at the world we're given to bring something new into being. We re-appropriate the past and present to create the future – breath by breath."
Deluxe Edition also available and features a bonus live version CD of Hello Hurricane along with the Vice Verses CD.
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A Career-Defining Triumph| Posted September 13, 2011
It may show my age, but I've been a fan of Switchfoot since the beginning, rocking out since the late 1990s to the generation-pegging “Chem 6A” from their Forefront Records debut The Legend of Chin, the radio-friendly pop song “New Way to Be Human” from their sophomore project of the same name, and the explosion of poetic yearnings in Learning to Breathe.
Good, positive rock and roll is what initially drew me to Switchfoot, and – starting with Learning to Breathe – what pulled me in deeper was frontman/songwriter Jon Foreman's poignant, honest lyrics and progressively inventive and captivating instrumentals.
Although I've enjoyed the direction the band has taken over the years, there certainly were days when I longed for the upbeat, uptempo rock and roll of their past. I certainly don't hold all Switchfoot albums equal; some certainly were stronger than others.
But the album that stands above them all is Switchfoot's eighth, Vice Verses. The musicality, the story of tension and the unparalleled poetry combine to deliver a dozen solid tracks that stand on their own.
“Tell me why would I wait 'til I die to come alive?” asks the first song, “Afterlife,” an opening declaration to live life now, instead of just hanging on for Heaven. Distorted interplay between electric guitars in the verses gives way to a driving chorus.
Rhythmic bass lines and prolific drum runs drive “The Original,” an energetic, happy song that encourages listeners to “free yourself” by embracing your unique identity: “Don't let nobody try to steal your soul. You're the original.” The sound and uptempo feel is reminiscent of Switchfoot's earlier albums.
“Every fight comes from the fight within,” claims “The War Inside,” a heavy, mid-tempo track about how our own brokenness leads to all the battles in our world. “I am the battle line,” the chorus admits, a realization that our own choices affect the course of the fight. Rhythmic, monotone verses sung over electronica bass distortion and a riff that sounds like a slowed down version of the riff from “The Sound (John M. Perkins Blues).”
Out of the confessional-type song comes what is easily the most emotional, climatic song of the album in “Restless.” The confession of brokenness gives way to a confession of desperation for God. “I am restless looking for You... I run like the ocean to find your shore,” Foreman sings in classic Switchfoot ballad style. The imagery of water drops making their way to the sea paints a beautiful metaphor of the longing for God's presence. “I am the raindrop falling down, always longing for the deeper ground,” is a verse that resonates with people whose hearts have been captured by Jesus.
“Blinding Light” is another song that hearkens back to Switchfoot's earlier days, but with the incredible word pictures of today's band. “Deep down there's a hope inside; you've got wings but you're scared to fly... wake up.” The song, with many echoing instruments and background vocals, talks about the inaction we all struggle with sometimes, and the inability we sometimes have to become the people God already says we are.
Switchfoot takes aim at the “info-tainment” nature of mass media in “Selling the News,” the track which easily is the most experimental on the album. Jon Foreman's classic vocals take over in the chorus and bridge of the song after his rhythmic speaking on the verses. (It's more poetry slam than rapping.) Foreman expresses his disdain for the money-seeking, “lowest common denominator” media industry in the third verse: “Substance, oh substance, where have you been? You've been replaced by the masters of spin... The facts are simply one option to choose... We're still on the air, it must be the truth.”
“I wanna thrive, not just survive,” proclaims “Thrive.” Drum machine beats, ethereal synth strings and light guitar accompanies lines like, “I come alive when I hear you singing, but lately I haven't been hearing a thing, and I get the feeling that I'm in between a machine and a man who only looks like me.” It's a cry to feel alive—a recognition that the singer doesn't feel like himself. Hopefully he declares, “I get so down, but I won't give up.”
The stand-out rock track of the album is “Dark Horses,” a track Foreman and Co. wrote for the homeless youth of their native San Diego. These people—and many more like them—have been counted out by society for many reasons. “We've been down but we've never been out,” the song shouts with multiple layers of Foreman's voice. It's a positive anthem that tells people they can rise above their circumstances, no matter what others say. Full of loud, distorted guitars, head-bobbing rhythms and singable choruses, don't be surprised if you hear “Dark Horses” on TV near the end of the college football season.
“We were so young; we had no idea that life was just happening,” reflects “Souvenirs,” a movie soundtrack-type song full of thick harmonies, haunting “oohs” in the background and anthemic chord progressions. The singer says he wouldn't trade his “souvenirs” for anything, as it gives him (and the listeners) happy memories of earlier times of innocence and a perspective to seek out that innocence.
The meaning behind the rhythmic, uptempo jam “Rise Above It” isn't at all veiled. It talks about overcoming the broken system of earth, “living under the curse.” Foreman sings: “Just because you're runnin' doesn't mean that you're scared. Just because it's law don't mean that it's fair. Never let another tell your soul what to fear.” Regardless of the brokenness around you, he extends an invitation: “Let's rise above it.”
Switchfoot has described Vice Verses as an album that deals with the tensions in life, and the title track absolutely embodies this, as it openly struggles with tough questions, including, “Where is God in the earthquake?” and “Where is God in the genocide?” A simple track with just Foreman's echoing vocals and an acoustic guitar, this intimate song plays like a personal journal entry. “Everything feels rusted; tell me that you're there,” he says, then noting, “I know there's a meaning to it all.”
With stomps, hand claps and echoing whoas in the background, “Where I Belong” concludes the album like a drive into the sunset, proclaiming hope in the world to come. Whereas “Afterlife” dealt with living in eternity now, “Where I Belong” acknowledges that the children of God, Jesus' followers, aren't home yet. “Until I die I'll sing these songs on the shores of Babylon... still looking for a home in a world where I belong.” The song bookends “Afterlife” by reprising the phrases, “I still believe we can live forever. You and I we begin forever now. I still believe in us together. You and I we're here together now, forever now.” From this perspective, though, it lends to an inspiring call to bring Heaven to Earth.
Vice Verses has something for every Switchfoot fan. It has the introspective, pleading ballads. It has the gritty hard rock riffs. It has the song that inevitably will find its way onto ESPN. It has the song that could've found its way onto The Legend of Chin or New Way to Be Human. It experiments some, and the experiments pay off.
But beyond the stylistic elements comes an album that tells a tremendous story of the tension of life. It captures the sometimes schizophrenic, sometimes manic-depressive roller coaster of life we all go through as Christians trying to figure out what this walk of faith means. It deals with action and paralysis, searching and meaning, boldness and insecurity, underdogs and conquerors – all supported by perfect instrumentation and vocals.
Now free of label pressures – both from Christian and secular interests – Switchfoot finally has taken off the training weights of expectation and is creatively sprinting into a new era. Vice Verses, it would seem, is the combination of the best of everything Switchfoot has played, written, learned and become in the past decade and a half. This is career defining material, and easily the best album of 2011.
Christian music is easy to find. The kind of gripping, moving, rocking art Switchfoot produces is difficult to find. Find this album, and you'll find your own story.
#2 - Best Of 2011| Posted December 26, 2011 After a return to true form on 2009'sHello Hurricane,Switchfootis back with yet another smashing chapter in their storied history. Could this be their best album yet, eclipsing evenNothing Is Sound? I'm not sure, but I do know it's the closest they've come yet to even having that discussion.
On Vice Verses, the drums and the bass take center stage driving forward a relentless energy backed by Jon Foreman's signature, passionate voice and in-depth lyrics that come alive with repeated listen. And much like their live performances, you get a sense that nothing was left behind in the studio. The band put their all into every song and the audio assault is a pure treasure to listen to.
There are so many fantastic songs on this album. "The War Inside" is one of the lyrical high points of the album and talks about our "low-fi killers" (pride and "I") that are within each of us, despite our race, age or location. Every line is beautifully crafted and designed. "Thrive" is low-key but you feel the angst when Jon sings "I wanna thrive, not just survive." "Restless," possibly one of the band's best songs they've ever crafted, starts soft and crescendos into a passionate creed. The song feels like an arena event, a play with multiple acts and a huge finale, with Jon rising to new emotion in his voice accompanied by an amazing guitar line. It's a song that I simply can't get enough of. And there's a reason "Dark Horses" is in the Top 5 on mainstream rock charts. It's simple an incredible rock anthem.
Vice Verses is just as good as Hello Hurricane, my top pick a few years back, and it's great to continue to witness the latest surge of this incredible band. Hopefully they keep riding this wave for years to come.
Great CD!| Posted December 02, 2012
They definitely showed every side on this CD. They have their hard rock parts as well as the simple alternative music. It has a lot of songs with great lyrics, though they've had better content before on other albums.
Greatest thing ever| Posted June 29, 2012
Read the title, cuz it speaks truth. My favorite songs from this album are Restless, Souvenirs, Blinding Light, and Thrive. Switchfoot is such a great band. I've loved Switchfoot since I was like 7. And I still love them.
VICE VERSES| Posted March 15, 2012
I loved Vice Verses by Switchfoot!! It shows through out the whole album that everything has a comparison. My favorite song is Afterlife; a rougher song that talks about him not wanting to wait but visit Heaven now.
Every blessing comes with a set of curses.| Posted December 13, 2011
Alrighty, I'm just going to get right to it:
This is by far, the best album EVER. Like, ever ever. It's almost hard to describe in words.. Just the power and message in each individual song, is outstanding. Not only that, but each song flows together in such a diverse, yet still-the-same way, it just blows my mind. From Dark Horses to Thrive to Where I Belong, this album is just INCREDIBLE. But one of the things I love most about it, is that it is very Switchfoot. Just as a band, they always stay true to who they are at the end of the day, and this album is nothing short of that. Do I recommend this album? Psh, I'd give you all a copy if I could! Get this album - you will NOT be disappointed.
A rocking cd| Posted December 13, 2011
I think I woud have to say that this is Switchfoot's most rocking cd. My favorite song on this cd is "Dark horses". I love Switchfoot very much. But I think that they could do better in telling people about God in their songs. They are clean and all but if I didn't know that they were a christian band I would think that they were a secular band.
Pure Awesomeness| Posted November 10, 2011
Great Band i have been a big fan of switchfoot since there very first album a few of my favorite songs are This Is Your Life, Meant To Live, Dark Horses, This Is The Sound and a lot of other songs keep up the good work guy i hope to see yall in concert one day
Incredible!| Posted October 18, 2011
I LOVE this album so much! Especially because they have created a new sound for themselves, distancing the songs from the very U2-esque sound so prevalent in Nothing Is Sound. The lyrics are some of the best Switchfoot has ever written, from the bitingly-sarcastic "Selling The News", to the hopeful and contemplative "Restless", to the victorious, beautiful "Where I Belong". These guys rock, but more importantly they haven't compromised the integity of their witness or the testimony of their lyrics for mainstream success. God Bless 'em!
The Best Yet!| Posted September 29, 2011
in 2009, Switchfoot released Hello Hurricane, which became their most successful record to date, picking up a Grammy earlier this year. While it feels the long time it took Hello Hurricane to be finished, it's only been two years since the release of that amazing album. Now, Switchfoot have overtopped that album with the release of Vice Verses.
The album kicks off with the grunge track "Afterlife," a rockin track that encourages the listener to live their life to fullest while they are instead of waiting for "the other side." "The Original" is punk/rock track reminiscent of the band's 2000 release Learning To Breathe. The song is an encouragement to anyone doubting their worth, telling them they are very special. "The War Inside" is my favorite track off the album and is heavy track about how every war that rages in the world begins with our own struggles and pride.
Christian radio single "Restless" is a more mellow track about looking for God. "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." Stand-out "Blinding Light" is about always looking for hope in midst of all the darkness around us.
"Selling The News" is a "poetry-slam" about the media, and how we twist the "news." A stand-out line that describes this song is "When nothing is sacred/ There's nothing to lose/ When nothing is sacred/ All is consumed/ We're still on the air/ It must be the truth/ We're selling the news." "Thrive" is a mellow track about thriving in this life and not just trying to make it through another day. No. 1 hit on Rock radio "Dark Horses" is an anthem written about "those who didn't choose their fate, but are rising above it" as frontman Jon Foreman puts it.
"Souviners" is another slow track about the good times we have as young people, and a longing to go back to those times and feel carefree about the troubles of life. "Rise Above It" is a great track about rising above the typical and making a difference in the world we live in. "It feels so typical/ I guess I'm looking for a miracle/ Rise above it, yeah/ Rise above it."
Title track "Vice Verses" talks about living in tension. As guitarist Drew Shirley puts "our lives are held between the two hooks for guitar strings, birth is one side, and death is another, and this song is about living well in tension" (at least that's how I remember the quote). Album closer "Where I Belong is a six-minute epic track about looking for our home, and that home, for christians, is heaven. The song ends like "Red Eyes" on Hello Hurricane by linking track 12 to track 1.
Overall, Vice Verses is the best album of 2011!!! The enjoyable rock tracks and the stellar, more mellow (ryhme) tracks make this album amazing!!! If you are a Switchfoot fan pick this up and buy an extra for someone who needs to hear these boys!!! :)
Album Rating: **********10/10
Top 3 Songs:
1. The War Inside
2. Selling The News
3. Blinding Light
Feel free to comment this review so I can make these the best they can be!!
5/5| Posted September 27, 2011
Switchfoot's previous album, Hello Hurricane, was what I thought was their best album and I felt that it would be really hard to top. But I believe they have with their latest album, Vice Verses.
The theme of the album is a journey through life. A journey through it's up and downs, high's and low's, victories and defeats. In the first song, the high energy rock anthem "Afterlife," a question is raised that takes us through the rest of the album. That question is the lyric "why would I wait until I die to come alive?" The temporary answer to that question also lies in "Afterlife" in which it states, "I'm ready now/ I'm not waiting for the afterlife." The album gives us the true answer to the question in the powerful closer "Where I Belong." I won't reveal that answer but I will say that the song brings focus to the whole album and gives us a sense that we have just gone through a life journey to find the answer.
Musically, Vice Verses continues the sonic and raw sound that Switchfoot introduced us to in Hello Hurricane. There are high energy anthmatic rockers like the aformentioned "Afterlife," "Rise Above It," and the lead single "Dark Horses." But it's the slower songs that make Vice Verses, and subsequently Hello Hurricane, unique and worth the price. Songs like "Thrive," "Restless," and "Where I Belong" show off the emotionality in Jon Foreman's voice and the lyrics are so well written that it feels like he is speaking directly to you.
I had quite a lot of expectations for Vice Verses and Switchfoot delievered on them. Every song is unique, every chord sounds great, and every lyric delievers on emotionality and realism. I still feel that Hello Hurricane is the better album but, over time and repeat listenings, I feel as if my opinion could change. For now though, Switchfoot strikes gold again and has created another solid album of the year candidate.