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I've heard reviewers say Hurrah by Versus is their best album yet. I've also heard other people say that Versus is the blandest of the New York Indie bands - the one that's the most difficult to differentiate and grab ahold of. And they're both right.

New York music is usually noise-based and strongly influenced by Sonic Youth. When you think "New York". You think of bands like Yo La Tengo, or even Blonde Redhead. You think of distortion and feedback and half-screamed vocals. And Versus - with their bass heavy melodies, clean guitars, and sung vocals - were always a little hard to place. They didn't sound like anything else in their scene.

However, on Hurrah, Versus have struck a middle ground. They haven't abandoned the pop hooks of their previous songs, but they have added a little more distortion and brought the guitars to the forefront. Likewise, both Fontaine Toup's bass as well as her vocals don't seem to carry the weight they did in previous recordings. Even their pop songs, such as Play Dead (one of the catchiest things I've heard recently), lack the melancholy undertones of the best upbeat songs from their back catalog. These changes make them sound more like those New York bands I've mentioned, but it also detracts from the qualities that made them Versus, and not some Yo La Tengo rip off band.

This isn't to say that Hurrah is a bad album - in fact it's quite good. There aren't any really bad songs on it; they're aren't any times when I cringe and go "ugh." But there aren't any times when I shiver slightly and then reverse the CD to hear that one special part again and again. It's just kind of there.

So I suppose if you're a big fan of those other New York bands, you'll likely find something good in Hurrah. But if you remember the Versus of 8 years ago - the Versus that sang "I am not a wind up doll" - you should probably give this one a miss, and go pull out The Stars Are Insane.

Related Links:

Shangri-La ep by Versus.
A review of a live Versus show from the tour for this album.


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