On the Ones and Threes

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A decade went by without so much as a peep from Versus, and the underrated indie rockers’ 2000 album seemed to be exactly what the title suggested: a last Hurrah. Sad for many, since this was a highly influential band of the ‘90s seemingly doomed to relative obscurity. Fortunately, though, ten years later in 2010, the original lineup reunited after amends were made between the Baluyut brothers Edward and Richard, who hadn’t played together since 1996’s Secret Swingers. Even more surprising than the long-delayed reunion, is how little the band has changed considering the amount of time that has passed. This comes as a mixed blessing. As ‘90s alt-rock finds a resurgence, it’s a perfectly timed return. However, it’s a slight disappointment that the band has regressed rather than moved forward. Fans of the Superchunk or Helium sound will likely find more to love on the group’s early albums, but at the very least, this comeback might generate some new interest in Versus’ golden years. Not to say this album is bad. It’s consistently pretty good. Album standouts “Nu Skin,” “Gone to Earth,” and “Erstwhile” show off the sweet guy/girl interplay and clever harmonies between Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toups, as well as the heavy dynamic shifts between mellow pop and raw guitar grunge. Even in the heavier moments, the album plays with a cool, unruffled composure that seems more easygoing than prior outings, making for a comfortable, welcome return.

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