Miranda Lambert – “Vice” (Singles Going Steady)

Taken as a whole, it's a low-stakes commercial country soap opera with lofty ambitions but little authenticity.

Pryor Stroud: After first skirting fame on the American Idol knockoff Nashville Star, Miranda Lambert bulleted to the forefront of modern country with an ambidextrous voice that could tackle tumbleweed ballads, radio-ready twang-pop trifles, and vengeful odes with equal aplomb. “Vice”, the first single from her upcoming LP, strands this voice in new dramatic territory: a chain of Middle America towns filled with the noise of barroom jukeboxes and cars speeding off into the distance, Lambert’s many vices — her ex-lovers, one night stands, and late-summer flings — left behind in disheveled beds before they even have a chance to remember the night before. Taken as a whole, it’s a low-stakes commercial country soap opera with lofty ambitions but little authenticity; there are moments when Lambert communicates real regret, a grief welling up behind her eyes, but the melody doesn’t give her enough room to confess what she really wants to say. “Maybe I’m addicted to goodbyes,” she sings, the chorus looming ahead of her like a storm cloud of secrets, and then she dives forward, ready to own up to her faults, immersing herself in the truth behind these secrets for the first time. After all, admitting you have a problem is the first step out of addiction. [6/10]

Brian Duricy: The song starts out promising: a song about songs? Certainly right up my alley. But the meta ends after the first hook, and the track fizzles out from there. Lyrically it becomes trite (love is a vice, who could’ve guessed?) and the slow smolder of the instrumentation doesn’t add much. [5/10]

Jordan Blum: From a technical standpoint, everything here works. Lambert has a nice voice, and she sings with a lot of conviction and personality. Likewise, the production is squeaky clean. I actually expected this to be more generic, but the sparse arrangement and slightly eerie effects throughout help it stand out from other country/pop tracks. The songwriting itself is nothing special, but the mixture of standard vocals/melodies and bleak, almost noirish tones is quite interesting. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: Miranda Lambert continues to create new music out of old bottles (an attempt at a joke about alcohol). The drinking and other bad habits she alludes to just make her sound more human — that and that ache in her voice. The song plods along nicely, but a more intense workout would reveal her journey into the volcano as something more treacherous. Just playing a record twice isn’t much of a self-punishment. Needles can be used for worse pain, as she knows, and this vice comes off as too benign for what she implies is real suffering. [6/10]

Chad Miller: The melody isn’t the most interesting thing in the world, but the harmonies and pulsing bass really help the track out. That said, the parts that feature next to no music lose a lot of momentum. Fortunately, the end of the track is splendid with its terrific harmonies and defiant background vocals. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.20