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coverpic flag US - New York - Full Moon 32 - 05/30/99

Versus
Afterglow EP
Merge

Since they released their stunning debut album The Stars Are Insane back in 1994, Versus has come up with two more albums (plus a singles&rarities compilation). Last year's Two Cents Plus Tax still keeps growing on me, and I think it must be, as a whole, by far their best record. This EP (released a couple of months ago) contains out-takes from the Two Cents... sessions. Could there be glowy, shiny pearls on it that, for mysterious reasons were dumped from the album?

Afterglow presents 5 songs, and they haven't convinced me yet, after quite some spinnings. They all sort of give me the feeling of being b-side-ish leftovers a bit to anonymous. Hey, I don't say they're bad. No, not at all, but they aren't of the same Versus standard I've learned to love (and I am one of their biggest fans, ever. Believe me.). Crashing the Afterglow is an epic slow roller, stretching up to almost 7 minutes. The lyrics are a bit, uh, simple maybe, with lines like: "Cursed like a 4-letter word, phony like a 3-dollar bill, sell the ticket 2 your heart, baby you're a 1-way street". Well, it's sort of like always before: sad love stories with a grin. And despite the fact that they credit all songs on the band, singer-guitarist Richard Baluyut is the Versus-head. But with bassist-singer Fontaine Toups by his side. On this EP Fontaine's got the main-vocals (of the twin leads) on two songs, Raining and Off The Hook. The former is somehow a bit more "electric", the latter a bit more laid-back and sensitive. True Believer, song three, could've been a single from some years back, but the real treasure of this EP is the final song, Santa Maria. A slow, magic moment, close to the greatness of Mouth of Heaven (the magnificent song from last year's album), with discreet feedback and a touch of magic.

And the verdict is: as I said earlier, I find Afterglow a little bit to "grey" and unfocused. Nevertheless, I still love the sugarcoated barbed-wired indie pop music Versus make. They can be velvety on tip-toe as well as pleasantly noisy. Rough and hard in one moment, sweet and kind in the next. And; if this was a debut, I would've raved and spoken in words like "genius". I highly recommend the albums mentioned above, and also Secret Swingers (the 2nd album) and Dead Leaves (the comp.).

Copyright © 1999 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Versus articles/reviews: July 10th 1998, Bowery Ballroom, New York, On the Ones and Threes.

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