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Vice Verses
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
With seven quality studio albums, millions of album sales, and a Grammy win, Switchfoot has repeatedly proven to be a band worth listening to. All those accolades aside, there are few, if any, other rock bands out there that find such a strong combination of thought-provoking lyrics and diverse, excellently crafted music. Hello Hurricane, the band's 2009 release, was a grand return for the band after nearly three years without a new studio album, and as fantastic as it was, it's now clear that it was a necessary step towards something bigger, bolder, and possibly even better, and that is where we find the band's latest offering, Vice Verses. If the clever title and the band's impressive track record aren't enough to convince you to give Switchfoot's latest a listen, maybe this review will.

The core of every Switchfoot album is still intact in Vice Verses, for those that might be wondering. Jon Foreman''s lyrics are still as insightful, thought-provoking, and meaningful as ever; that quality has always been a staple in Switchfoot albums and it's still strong here as they ponder the polarity of life. The sonic diversity also hasn't been lost: you'll get some of Switchfoot's heaviest rockers yet ("Dark Horses," "Afterlife"), but never at the expense of the inclusion of some beautiful, mellow tracks ("Vice Verses," "Thrive").

Every member of the band is truly at the top of their game on this record: from a performance standpoint Vice Verses is easily Switchfoot's strongest effort. Tim Foreman''s bass and Chad Butler''s drums provide the groundwork for these songs, unlike on past albums; to be honest I had never realized how awesome these guys are in the rhythm section until I heard their incredibly skillful parts carrying songs like the infectiously catchy "The Original" and the more beat-driven tracks including "Selling the News" and "Blinding Light." Jerome Fontamillas'' keyboards also add some awesome pieces to the music, especially his "time travel" keyboard line in "Souvenirs" and the epic warlike background noise in the later choruses of "The War Inside." Guitarist Drew Shirley is also as brilliant as ever at finding the perfect guitar sound for each song and providing some fantastic riffs and background noise, while Jon Foreman's vocals have never been stronger, striking the right level of intensity for the heavier songs and hitting that sublimely delicate zone for the quieter tracks.

There are so many highlights on Vice Verses, we'd be here all day if I talked about them all at length, so I'll try and keep this relatively brief. "The War Inside" is one of my personal favorite tracks with its driving beat and clever lyrics which are thematically reminiscent of "Mess of Me" from Hello Hurricane ("Ain't no killer like pride / no killer like I / no killer like what's inside"). The simply delightful "Blinding Light" features a musically uplifting chorus and hopeful lyrics and the worshipful "Restless" is probably Jon Foreman's most poetically stunning song to date. "Souvenirs" will soothe you with its lovely guitar work even when the pace picks up as the band sings, "Nothing lasts forever..." while the fantastic lead single "Dark Horses" is easily Switchfoot's heaviest rocker to date, serving as an inspiring underdog anthem. "Selling the News" also stands out as the boldest step outside the norm for the band, but it's also one of the strongest tracks on the album with its spoken word verses and infectiously catchy pop chorus. And of course, the title track features some incredible songwriting and solid acoustic guitar work.

What might be the best part of the album, however, is how it comes full circle by the way the last song connects to the first. "Afterlife" kicks it off strong with a fantastically intense rocker about truly living in this life, while the breathtaking closer "Where I Belong" sings about hope in the next life, using lyrics from the second verse of "Afterlife" in a similar yet also very different context ("I still believe we can live forever / You and I, we begin forever now"). While every song on Vice Verses falls somewhere on a scale from great to excellent, "Where I Belong" is in a league of its own. Drew's guitar work is simply stellar, the gang vocals soar, and the lyrics are beautiful and plentiful. "Where I Belong" is easily Switchfoot's strongest album closer, going on for nearly seven minutes but not dragging on at all and bringing such a majestic and conclusive feel to the album's end as the whole band echoes back the second verse of "Afterlife"... it's definitely a special song unlike any other the band has ever recorded before.

Vice Verses may or may not be Switchfoot's best album yet; as the years go by we'll have to see if it has the same kind of lasting appeal that Nothing Is Sound' still has. All comparisons aside, though, Vice Verses features some of the highest points of the band's career with its bold steps outside their usual style, excellent performances, and fantastic lyrics. Vice Verses is an absolutely excellent and nearly flawless addition to Switchfoot's already impressive discography that should not be missed.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2011
That's probably the best of part of any Switchfoot album -- really great, varying songs from start to finish. To me their albums never get old. "Vice Verses" is no different... It's an outstanding mix made for heavy rotation. This album takes Switchfoot in some new directions, while maintaining who they've been and what's made them great. There's just enough of what everyone has come to expect -- along with the new -- in the 12 songs.

One change-up is more driving/featured bass and drums. Previously Switchoot has really identified themselves as "guitar-driven." Secondly, I'd say the style and talent of Drew Shirley on lead guitar is more utilized. Awesome guitar sounds and more solos than I ever remember. Last of all, I hear some great moments of a brighter/"happier" sound (less angst?). Maybe it's just more upbeat/uptempo ("The Original") than their more recent releases. I do know that lyrically it's still as sharp and challenging as ever. "Blinding Light" (especially the chorus) may do the best job of showing what is I'm trying to say about this feel good sound.

Anyone who's listened to Switchfoot for long is very familiar with the theme of "hope..." This latest effort continues to uplift and even raises their bar for what hopeful or positive rock music can be.

A couple more quick comments: The spoken word on "Selling the News" and "The War Inside" is like nothing ever heard from them (in a wonderful way). I think "Dark Horses" rocks more than ever. "Vice Verses" is beautiful (rivaling "Sing It Out") and vulnerable. The last song "Where I Belong" is an absolute anthem for the album... and for the band for that matter.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
This album is great from start to finish. There isn't one weak song in the whole lot. The lyrics are phenomenal and the beats are infectious. Also, I downloaded the DELUXE version with the digital booklet for $11.99! This is a GREAT DEAL!! Get this album ASAP! I have had it for a day and I have listened to the entire album several times. The ENTIRE album. I never listen to a whole album because there is always 3 to 4 songs that can be thrown away on almost any album these days.

Afterlife: A kicking beat with a Christian message.

The Original: Uplifting and encouraging.

The War Inside: I am the war inside. For any of us that have battled our own inner demons, this song is spectacular! My favorite lyric in this one... "ain't no killer like pride, no killer like I, no killer like what's inside"

Restless: I love how this song starts. Slow, melodic, then the drum beat. Awesome.

Blinding Light: This has a great poppy feel to it. "None of us are bulletproof"

Selling the News: Wow! Some great lyrics and it just shouts TRUTH! I love the beat and the guitars are great. Very rare do people state the truth like this.
"The fact is fiction, suspicion is the new religion"

Thrive: Awesome intro. Slow guitar with just vocals.
"The stranger in the mirror is wearin my clothes" This song is just great. Love the echo style to it. "I wanna thrive, not just survive"

Dark Horses: The ROCK song on the album. This song just KICKS hard core!
"Wait it's not over now, we've been down but we've never been out"
"I can feel my lungs again"!!

Souvenirs: I don't know what to say other than I am astounded by Switchfoot. "We were so young, we had no fear, we were so young, we had no idea, that life was just happening"

Rise Above it: Funky, Groovy, and a kickin beat! "I get so sick of it, it feels so counterfeit, I rise above it"!

Vice Verses: Easily my favorite song on the album. This is a soft melodic song. "Lookin for signs in the night sky, Wishing that I wasn't such a nice guy, wonder what it means to live forever, wonder what it means to die"
"Every blessing comes with a set of curses, I got my vices, I got my vice verses"
Wow. Extremely POWERFUL song.
"A little resurrection every time I fall"

Where I Belong: What a great beat! The overlayed claps and vocals are perfect for this one. "But I'm not sentimental, this skin and bones is a rental, and no one makes it out alive" This album is chock full of meaning and resonance.

The second set of 12 songs on the Deluxe album are basically a Switchfoot CONCERT!! Live recordings that are simply AWESOME.

This album is a MUST BUY for anyone who is a fan of great music!!

YOU WON'T BE DISAPPOINTED!!!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2011
Great albuum through my first listen. Standouts for me included "The War Inside," "Afterlife," and "Where I Belong." I even enjoyed "Selling the News" though it's quite the departure from their normal tunes. It's one of those Switchfoot songs that is oh-so-true, but still makes you feel a little uncomfortable...but the truth hurts us sometimes. This album has an Oh!Gravity feel to it, but is a collection of much better songs. Have Foreman's lyrics ever been better??
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
I could start this review with an introduction to the history of Switchfoot, give a step-by-step critique of the album, then wrap up with my closing thoughts and an evaluative score, along with my recommendation to buy or not to buy this album. That's not appropriate here. What you need to know about "Vice Verses" is that this is not only Switchfoot's best album to date, it's quite simply one of the purest rock and roll experiences ever.

There are bound to be critics of this album. I realize that. I am one of them. Even as a long-time Switchfoot fan, I do not pretend that everything the group records automatically becomes great. In fact, I could point out numerous flaws on this album. However, Vice Verses is more than just an alternative rock album worth subtracting its cons from the sum of its pros. Perhaps it is Jon Foreman's paradoxical and metaphorical lyricism that really grabs me; perhaps it is the subtlety with which the album slowly reveals its musical genius on multiple listens; or perhaps it is simply the confidence in the album's production and execution. Or perhaps it's all three - I think so.

I am at a loss for describing just how incredible the writing is on this album. Expressive of deep emotion and comfortable with having fun all at once, "Vice Verses" is almost relentlessly clever. From the sarcasm of the jarringly political "Selling the News" ("The lines start to blur / I get so confused / I get shiny new models mixed up with the blues / I get binary code mixed up with abuse / The facts are simply one option to choose"), to the darkly humorous delivery of "The War Inside" ("If you kick drum / Kick one time / Breathe out / Let your mind unwind / Eyes on the ceiling / Looking for a feeling / Wide open let your own eyes shine"), to the sentimental ruminations of "Souvinirs" ("I close my eyes / And go back in time / I can see you smiling / You're so alive / We were so young / We had no fear / We were so young / We had no idea that life was just happening"). Even in it's musical misstep of sounding entirely too much like U2, "Restless" contains an impressive amount of imagery and emotion. Songs like "The War Inside" and "Rise Above It" often have ridiculous-sounding lines that, upon further investigation, provide a window into the sometimes-troubled, always-resolute mind of songwriter Jon Foreman. He is simply not afraid to write darkly when a peek into the darkness is warranted, but always comes back to the light with some form of encouragement ("You've got your babies / I've got my hearses / Every blessing comes with a set of curses / I've got my vices / Got my vice verses").

Musically, this album just gets better and better. Of the brothers Foreman, Jon may be the frontman, but Tim is the star musician. Loads of funky bass lines permeate the album, especially in "The Original," "Blinding Light," and "Selling the News." Calling this record "pop-rock" would be accurate, though not in the stale, bland, typical mainstream meaning of the term. The fact is that it has all the groove and hooks of pop album, with all the energy of a rock album. Even unoriginal guitar riffs on songs like "Afterlife" and "Dark Horses" are contrasted by impulsively singable melodies. Really, Vice Verses take the best elements of previous records and forms them into one beautifully cohesive package. Expect plenty of musical influence from "New Way to Human" and "Oh! Gravity." here, as well as lyrical influence from "Nothing Is Sound" and "Hello Hurricane." It's a brand new collection of greatest hits.

It's not perfect, but Vice Verses approaches that mark with such calculated closeness, I have to give this album the highest accolades possible. Comfortable in its many moods, expressive of deep thought and of simple truth all at once, subtly defiant, often touching, occasionally humorous, always clever. It's simply a pure rock and roll album, and perhaps one of the purest ever to be cut. This one is not so much a buy as it is an experience, and you should definitely experience it.

Ten-Point Scale: 10.0 out of 10.0
Objectionable Content: None
Genre: Rock / Alternative
Recommended: Most Highly
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 2011
I agree with what many are saying here, but let me express my opinion concisely before going into detail. This album is very well written, performed, and produced. It has a lot of extremely solid tracks musically, and the lyrics are pretty awesome, as always. Jon is a poet with a great singing voice and a sense how to write music to match his emotions. There are a few weaker songs on this album, though, making it less solid than Hello Hurricane and The Beautiful Letdown, but (in my opinion) higher than any of their other albums. And that's saying a lot, given the quality of music that Switchfoot has put out over the years!

Here is my track-by-track breakdown of the album:

1) Afterlife: Love the idea behind this song. It inspires me to live today to its fullest... longing for the afterlife is great, but let's start living TODAY! Love the guitars in this song right from the beginning!
2) The Original: I've heard a few negative things from others, but I personally love this song. It's light and energetic, reminiscent of "Popparazzi" from Learning to Breathe. I also really love the dissonance in the vocals during the verses. Another inspiring tune about living life as only you can... don't let anyone steal your joy or freedom!
3) The War Inside: Groovy and powerful. This one makes me think of "The Sound" from Hello Hurricane for some reason, even though the songs do not sound at all the same. I think they both have that same strong presence on the album, though. Ironic how this song is talking of how our pride is one of our biggest enemies, and the most emphasized word in the song is "I" (as in, "I am the war inside, I am the battle line, I am the rising tide, I am the war I fight").
4) Restless: Second straight song with a lot of "I am" in it, and while the song is beautiful, the repetition of "I am" lyrics right after "The War Inside" makes this one drone a little. Love the bridge, though! "...Til the final healing, I'm looking for you!"
5) Blinding Light: One of the more forgettable tracks on the album, in my opinion. It's a little bit mellow but with a sweet groove. Still, I started worrying about this album after hearing this song after "Restless"... until...
6) Selling The News: The is probably the most talked about song on the whole album, and with good reason. It is different from anything Switchfoot has ever done before. Spoken-word lyrics instead of singing (through the verses, anyways), and just a different overall feel. But I LOVE it. The song is about as cynical as I have heard Switchfoot, but since that cynicism is directed towards the media and how the masses blindly follow/believe anything they hear, I would say this song has deep meaning in today's world, and Jon expresses himself so well, and the bass line is so sweet, that I can listen to this one over and over!
7) Thrive: Amazing song -- Switchfoot doing what they do best: slow, pensive, self-discovery/improvement songs. "A steering wheel don't mean you can drive / A warm body don't mean I'm alive / I am not alright / I know that I'm not right / I feel like I travel but I never arrive / I want to thrive, not just survive." Brilliant.
8) Dark Horses: Lead single and worthy of being so. Great song with a strong guitar riff, great heavy vocals through the chorus, and an anthemic message. This song will give you energy and perseverance to get through hard times in your life!
9) Souvenirs: Unlike many, I am not a huge fan of this song. It seems a little sappy and draggy. Perhaps I need to give it more chance to grow on me.
10) Rise Above It: Another weaker link, in my opinion. The guitars and vocals don't seem to be timed all that well through the verses, and it sounds a little too bare and simple for me to get into it. For a faster song, it feels kind of empty.
11) Vice Verses: I have heard this one on youtube for almost 2 years (Jon's after-show live performances), and couldn't wait to hear the studio version! It was worth the wait, and while Jon could have done this one on its own, it sounds great with all the extra instrumentation... there isn't much in there, but still, it adds to the fullness of the song. One of my favourites on the album and by Switchfoot in general!
12) Where I Belong: Though not exceptionally complex musically, this one is catchy and epic. It encompasses what Switchfoot is about as a band. I heard that Jon said if the band ever breaks up, this is the last song he wants to play on stage together. Rightly so. It should be a concert-ender for them. And I love how it bookends with "Afterlife" by repeating the line (different melody) "I still believe we can live forever / You and I we begin forever now / Forever now / I still believe in us together / You and I we're here together now / Together now / Forever now."

Brilliant album from start to finish. I will not go so far as to say this is their best ever, because it's not. Hello Hurricane is, in my opinion, and the proof of that is in the fact that the deluxe version of this album comes with a complete live recording of HH. It's also amazing and I'm so glad they made it available. Being in Japan means it's hard to get to see them live, and I really wanted to!

One last note about this album: is it just me, or does Jon say "yeah" a LOT??? It seems like every song has at least one or two "yeahs" with some even having ten or more! I'll get over it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2013
"Vice Verses" feels like a return to classic Switchfoot ("Beautiful Letdown", etc.) from CD's like "Oh Gravity!", and it's a great return.

The songs feel "real" - they excite, they inspire, and they make you think. Exactly what an artist's songs should do.

If you're a Switchfoot fan, or just a fan of soft rock/rock music, give this CD a listen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2011
This might honestly be their best album yet. Awesome cover to cover. Looking back at their previous work, this is high praise indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2011
No words to discribe this album, I am so happy... Switchfoot and Jon Foreman are Geniuses =D... para todos los compradores latinos super recomendadisimo este album no se arrepentiran... comprenlo
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
I own every album Switchfoot has released and I have to say, "Vice Verses" now rates among my top three. I loved "Hello, Hurricane" but ever since the first few listens I find myself skipping through some of the tracks - not so with "Vice Verses". Every tracks is worth listening to - I'm on my 5th listen-through right now and that CD's probably staying in the car player for several more commutes. The lyrics for every song are stellar and just what you'd hope for from this band and there's so many stand out tracks. Some of my favorites are "Restless", which is just plain beautiful and haunting in its melody, "Selling the News" which is fun and different and oh-so-catchy even as it hits hard w/ it's brutally honest lyrics, "Dark Horses" which is such a great underdog anthem to rock out to, and "Where I Belong" which was my favorite track of the album because I've always been a sucker for Switchfoot's softer, thoughtful work. "Where I Belong"'s lyrics are pure poetry and the way it bookends with "Afterlife" - restating a few of the lines from the first track and turning them around to fit the last - it's such a strong and beautiful finish to a fantastic album. Loved it.
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