Miranda Lambert gets spacey, dark and desperate with “Vice,” the first single from her still-untitled follow-up to 2014’s Platinum. Released this afternoon, the song points Lambert in a new direction, with guitars that howl in slow-motion and a voice that sounds as though its echoing throughout the walls of an empty home. Appropriately, the track recasts Lambert as a lonely addict who’s looking for something quick — whether it’s the hiss of a vinyl record, the burn of a strong drink or the short-lived comfort of a one-night stand — to scratch the itch.
Written by Lambert, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, “Vice” avoids repainting the same scenery we’ve heard in other contemporary country singles, replacing the all-too-familiar moonbeams, corn fields and F150 bench seats with a world that’s gloomy and unique to its singer. “I wear a town like a leather jacket / When the ‘new’ wears off, I don’t even pack it,” she sings wearily in the second verse, finishing off the line with, “If you need me, I’ll be where my reputation don’t precede me.” In the background, a Seventies-sounding synthesizer plays a low, deep chord, as though co-producer Frank Liddell cued up a disco sample but set the playback at a slower speed.
If the second season of HBO’s Vinyl hadn’t been canceled, “Vice” could’ve been a contender for the soundtrack. Released during a year in which her country contemporaries are inching closer and closer to pop, Lambert’s new song points her in the opposite direction, mixing Bible Belt twang with the atmospheric snarl of rock & roll, at points, the torch song balladry of a more believable Lana Del Ray.