Despite scorching guitar compositions and energetic beats, Switchfoot fails to produce any track at the level of its iconic 2004 single, “Dare You To Move,” on “Vices Verses,” its eighth studio album.
The band uses the idea of polarity in human experience to inspire an album of contrasts. Switchfoot creates a 52-minute compilation of contradictions on its most daring album to date.
“Afterlife” acts as an enticing introduction to the album, serving up heavy doses of thunderous percussions and ingenious guitar riffs. Despite the immediate sonic barrage, the sound lightens up in time for front-man Joe Foreman to croon: “And I wonder, why would I wait till I die to come alive/ I’m ready now/ I’m not waiting for the afterlife.”
Unfortunately, the album subsequently begins to dip in quality. Immediately following the opening track is the single “The Original,” an electrified radio snippet, which is void of any real lyrical depth. Closing off the set is “The War Inside,” a track that de-emphasizes quality lyrics in favor of energetic beats.
Just as “Vices Verses” starts to look like a lost cause, though, Switchfoot unleashes the true gems of the album. For the first time in the band’s history, slower songs like “Thrive” and “Restless” hold precedent over the more jazzed-up tunes. The album’s most notable song is the acoustic title track, “Vices Verses,” a poignant tale about finding beauty in tragedy.
While the explorative nature of Switchfoot within this 12-track list adds a timeless quality and landmark value to “Vices Verses,” the album has no apparent cohesion. Switchfoot’s effort to emphasize contrast overrules their desire for quality, which causes the songs to fall flat. Simple lyrics get lost in guitar notes, and drumbeats clash with the soft notes of a keyboard.
Overall, there are fleeting moments to enjoy on Switchfoot’s new album, but more often than not, the vices are up for display rather than verses.