After debuting in 1993 with the cryptic, corrosive guitar-pop of The Stars Are Insane, Versus grew increasingly cleaner, sweeter, and more cleverly ironic. By the time 2000’s Hurrah came out, co-leaders Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toups were tossing off song titles like “I Love The WB” and singing archly about pouring champagne and popping pills, apparently reveling in the sheer perversity of it all. Ten years and a few assorted projects later, Baluyut and Toups have regrouped and released Hurrah’s follow-up, On The Ones And Threes. Whatever juice Versus used up in 2000 has been wholly replenished: On par with the band’s best album, 1995’s Dead Leaves, the new disc is a gutsy, raggedy, dynamic set of vintage indie-rock that harnesses dissonance—both sonic and emotional—and twists that discord into melodic, melancholic confessionals. “You didn’t have the patience for make-believe,” sings Baluyut on “Gone To Earth,” and that return to a raw, defiant innocence is as striking as the band’s cynical departure from it was more than a decade ago. Older, wiser, and a little weathered around the edges, Versus no longer has time for irony or niceties. Accordingly, On The Ones isn’t a nostalgic tickle—it’s a wake-up punch.
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