When most bands reach their eighth album, the songs all start to sound the same, the creativity starts to run out and the tracks start to become a little lackluster. With the release of its latest album “Vice Verses” on Sept. 28, however, alternative rock band Switchfoot is just getting better with age.
    
After its seventh album, Grammy-winning “Hello Hurricane,” the band had a tough act to follow.
   
 So they didn’t follow it. Instead they went a whole different direction musically. They kept the searching soulfulness of lead singer Jon Foreman’s lyrics and added 12 diverse tracks that are sure to keep listeners rocking out the whole way.
   
 “Vice Verses” opens with the edgy, riff-driven “The Afterlife” that boldly states what becomes a common theme throughout the album — “Why would I wait till I die to come alive? / I’m ready now / I’m not waiting for the afterlife.”
    
The guitar-driven, almost aggressive tracks build the listener up before lulling him into the more ballad-like songs like “Restless” — an anxious search for God — and “Thrive” — a mellow, melancholy song where Foreman’s raspy voice pleads “I wanna thrive / not just survive.”
    
In between is the most diverse song on the album and my personal favorite. “Selling the News” is Switchfoot experimenting with spoken word verses that add intensity and a catchy chorus that brings it all together.
    
“News” is an almost scathing commentary on money, power and media and its effect on the truth. The grungy guitar in the background — courtesy of the talented lead guitarist Drew Shirley — makes Foreman’s verses give the listener chills when he sings, “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.”
    
After “Thrive” comes “Dark Horses” — the album’s first single. “Dark Horses” is the climax of musical intensity on this record, and it becomes a rallying anthem for the oppressed, the downtrodden and the abandoned.
    
The song was written for homeless, at-risk kids that the band tries to help through their annual Bro-Am beach concert benefiting the Stand Up For Kids charity, according to Foreman.
    
The record begins their concluding descent with the nostalgic “Souvenirs” that comments on youth and the realizations of growing up. The second-to-last title track “Vice Verses” combines incredible lyricism with the probing questions that everyone asks himself or herself about life.
    
Foreman asks “Where is god in the night sky? / Where is god in the city light? / Where is god in the earthquake? / Where is god in the genocide?” and creates a sad, musing tone that makes the listener ponder life in a new way.
 
  Switchfoot concludes with the ballad-anthem “Where I Belong” and leaves the listener with a feeling of contentment at having been successfully taken through the ups and downs of a musician’s journey of faith and questioning.
    
While a few tracks get lost in the shuffle of the emotion of “Vice Verses,” most of the songs are both memorable and thought provoking.
   
 Overall, Switchfoot rallies the success of “Hello Hurricane” with “Vice Verses.” They remain true to their lyrical style while pushing the musical bounds of their genre and expanding as artists. And if Switchfoot is just getting better and better as they progress as musicians, one can only imagine what record number nine has in store for Switchfoot fans.