Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Album Review: Versus - On The Ones and Threes

On The Ones and Threes is the first album from Versus in 10 years and the first that original drummer Ed Baluyut has played on in 14 years. 2010 marks the group’s twentieth year and the experience that comes with two decades of making music is apparent in this polished album.

Versus strike a balance between gritty rock and laid back pop. Often the edge of the guitar rhythms will be offset by lengthy vocal lines and strings. This balance has always been the core of the band’s sound and it’s expertly performed.

Throughout the record there is tension between the relaxed vibe and the impending doom that’s the topic of many of the lyrics. Bassist Fontaine Toups sings “Feelin’ so happy the end will come soon,” on “Scientists” and that pretty much sums it up.

Toups has her fair share in the spotlight as a lead vocalist on this album. The variety is welcome, but her voice needs support. In the beginning of “Erstwhile” there is little underneath her vocals and it sounds like she’s struggling.

On The Ones and Threes is bookended by its best tracks. It opens with “Invincible Hero” and closes with “On The Ones and Threes.” The energy of both tracks is unmatched throughout the rest of the album. The creative drumming on “Cicada” and the swirling, hypnotic ending of “Gone to Earth” are also great moments on the record.

While Versus may not be the most recognizable name from the 90’s, On The Ones and Threes is refined and well-rounded and will appeal to far more than just nostalgists.

On The Ones and Threes releases August 3 via Merge Records.

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