"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 Switchfoot's lead singer/guitarist Jon Foreman. In the title track, he writes, "'Every blessing comes with a set of curses. I got my vices. I got my vice verses.' So we live in the tension - pulled and stretched thin. Vice Verses is soul music - attempting to get to the heart of the human experience: Living in the tension and turning it into song."
Vice Verses is the work of a band that is so restless, they devote an entire song ("Restless") to the condition. 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. You can hear the tension build along with the first chords of album opener "Afterlife," leading into a bold statement of intent:
I've tasted fire I'm ready to come alive
I can't just shut it up and fake that I'm alright
I'm ready now
I'm not waiting for the afterlife... I believe we start forever now
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 latter is a poetry slam Beck-meets-Beastie Boys style examination of a media-mad nation:
America listens the story is told
the hard sell, all caps, all bold... begging the question mongering fears
stroking the eye and tickling ears
the truth ain't just what it appears
we're selling the news
But Switchfoot isn't content to merely detail the gaping contradictions they find within themselves or the surrounding culture. As the rousing lead single "Dark Horses" makes abundantly clear, we were designed to transcend, to stand up against the darkness.
"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."
Working with producer Neal Avron (Weezer, Linkin Park), the band recorded most of Vice Verses in their San Diego, CA home studio. Mike Elizondo, renowned hip hop bassist known for his work with the likes of Eminem, 50 Cent, Pink, Maroon 5 and Fiona Apple, served as executive producer. Switchfoot will release their eighth studio album, Vice Verses on September 27th.