Poison the Well

Versions

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2007's Versions marks Poison the Well's return to independent labels following a brief, one album sojourn with major Atlantic Records, which, if nothing else, served as endless fodder for self-absorbed debate amongst their notoriously possessive fans. In fact, it often seems as though Poison the Well's got thousands of bitchy girlfriends instead of fans, so here's hoping they'll stop their whining now that the guys have dumped that skanky high-priced major-label ho and hooked up with a hip-but-hot "indie chick" in the shape of hardcore specialists Ferret Records. They certainly should have no qualms with the band's choice of direction, since Versions finds them toying and experimenting with the same liberal hardcore philosophy that got them to this point, and, to that end, their selection of Refused producers Pelle Henricsson and Eskil Lovstrom is ideal. From album opener "Letter Thing" through to closer "The First Day of My Second Life," the band tempers the necessary bursts of pure hardcore with unpredictable detours into densely textured guitar dirges, likewise alternating clean and screamed vocals as need be, and sculpting dizzying citadels of sound out of standouts tracks like "Breathing for the Birds," "Pleading Post," and "You Will Not be Welcomed." Poison the Well is also quick to augment their recently depleted roster of musicians (this album being recorded by the remnant trio) with "exotic" instruments such as banjos, mandolins, and various horns used on the aforementioned "Pleading Post," the Spaghetti Western homage "Riverside," and the sublime, suitably named "Slow Good Morning," where a desolate atmospheric vibe somehow welds together the Beatles and Soundgarden. Thus are sowed the seeds to a typically progressive, daring, and no doubt controversial release from Poison the Well; so it now remains to be seen (and heard) how their girlfriends -- that is "fans" -- relate to it...let the bitching begin!

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