Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Versus: Hurrah

About halfway through Hurrah, the fourth album by the New York City indie-pop band Versus, is "Frederick's Of Hollywood," which at first sounds like a rare misstep. For a few minutes, the song rambles along, sounding like a fourth-generation Sonic Youth knockoff; then, like so many Versus songs, it evolves. After a lovely, ambient interlude, the track kicks into a strange hidden gear, roaring into a cacophonous squall worthy of Godspeed You Black Emperor! or Dirty Three. That creative restlessness and defiance of formula doesn't make "Frederick's" the best song on Hurrah, but it illustrates why the album is so rewarding: At every turn, it does more than you expect. There's not a bad song here, but each moment is different, whether in the service of mature breakup songs ("Play Dead," "You'll Be Sorry") or pure, seemingly effortless pop confections ("My Adidas," "The Spell You're Under"). Every listen reveals a few more hidden treasures, which is a good indication that Hurrah lacks the immediacy of its near-perfect—and ludicrously under-appreciated—predecessors, particularly Secret Swingers and Two Cents Plus Tax. But it actually runs a bit deeper, proving that even as Versus' sound falls further out of fashion, the band continues to lavish it with innovation and unlimited hooks.


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