Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Review: Switchfoot - Vice Verses

 A brief history of my experience with christian rock. Well for a long time I couldn't think of a more horrendous sounding phrase. When thinking of the idea of rock music that is specific to christianity, what I pictured mainly was... well, a church choir with a guitarist and drummer. Also when the idea of christian rock started to emerge to me, I had just gotten into Slayer. And though I don't worship Slayer's lyrics, the whole idea of songs about God being on the same iPod as well... "Enter the realm of Satan!" seemed odd. However, my attitude towards christian rock changed after I actually started listening to and bought some. At the time, I was looking at what people who enjoyed Bullet for My Valentine were into and a band that popped up were a band I never knew about before called Skillet. So I checked them out, and sure enough was impressed by their energetic alt metal sound and so I bought two of their albums Comatose and Awake. At no point in listening to those albums would I have guessed that they were a Christian band. Perhaps some lyrics would replicate it, however for the most part the lyrics of these songs were more romantic, or relating to self tragedy, or uplifting lyrics of self-freedom and self-belief. But there's really nothing on those albums that I'd consider typical of a stereotypical christian rock band. I wouldn't refer to Skillet as a christian rock band in the same way that I wouldn't refer to As I Lay Dying as a christian metal band. Although members of both bands are christian and the theme of christianity is ever present in both bands music.
 Anyway, after becoming fascinated by Skillet, I wondered if anyone I knew had any recollection of them, and I decided that the best people to ask would be some of my friends at school, Peter and David (think of this as a slick shout-out guys) who have more of a christian faith than me and go to church and stuff. They didn't seem too familiar with the band, however a group who they had a lot of good things to say about another christian rock group, and this group was the San Diego five piece, Switchfoot. They showed me a few tracks from them which left me overall impressed and an interest in the band is emerging again, as I've been invited to go and see them so I've been getting into them a little more by listening to their new album Vice Verses.
 Similar to Skillet, Switchfoot despite being branded a christian rock band, it's not something you would probably be able to instantly identify from their music. The kind of lyrics relating to self-discovery and life and living it as you want are the kind of lyrics that wouldn't sound out of place on a Foo Fighters album, and those guys really managed to annoy a church lately. The overall sound of the album is one that would be described as a warm friendly and welcoming, as their soulful drum and bass led rock sound runs through a range of different styles, such as the scuzzy grunge sound heard in Afterlife, the catchy Indie rock hook laden The Original and the awesome hip hop inspired Selling the News which reveals an influence to The Beastie Boys nonetheless.
 A band that it's obvious that Switchfoot listen to a lot would have to be U2 though. The vocals of Jon Foreman practically replicate those of Bono and some of the electronic backdrops heard on the album are reminiscent of the backdrops heard on U2's later albums. Of course this means Vice Verses can hardly be described as dynamic and could easily be thought of as bland. The alternative rock sound displayed is one that has been heard on a million other albums in the past.
 However, it's not to be dismissed entirely. Many of those albums have a clear lack of passion and such a statement could never be applied for Switchfoot. This is clearly a sound they've put their heart and soul into and the power of the music is an obvious way of showing this. Though drum and bass serves as the driving force, when guitar riffs intend to pummel they achieve it well. The intensity put into it shows they weren't just pissing around when making this album.
 So, while Switchfoot have hardly managed to reinvent alternative rock with this album it certainly shows that they can do it better than hundreds of other bands out there.

 Switchfoot's Vice Verses is out now via lowercase people. The band tour the UK in November.

No comments:

Post a Comment