Album Review: Versus the World – “Drink. Sing. Live. Love.”

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Versus the World is an alternative/pop punk/post-hardcore/something-else-I’m-sure-I’m-forgetting band. The band was formed by bassist Mike Davenport, best known for his time as the bassist of the Ataris from 1998 to 2005. Guitarist Chris Flippin also plays in Lagwagon. This is just background to understand that the members of Versus the World are well seasoned players in the pop punk and post-hardcore genres. And well seasoned they are.

[Editor’s Note: It should be noted that the use of “post-hardcore” here refers to the general Dischord Records sound, rather than its modern usage]

“Drink. Sing. Live. Love.” is Versus the World’s sophomore album, and even though it’s been seven years since their self titled debut was released, “Drink. Sing. Live. Love” (referred to as “DSLL” from now on) plays effortlessly as if there was never a hiatus in between releases. It sounds really good: the vocals are clean, the guitars are loud, the bass is crisp, and the drums are steady. Vocalist Donald Spence has an impressively wide range- sometimes he sounds as smooth as Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, while other times he’s as raw as Alkaline Trio’s Daniel Andriano. And he utilizes that range well to work with the music.

There’s a dark quality to Versus the World’s music, akin to Alkaline Trio or Bayside. But whereas the former bands drown their depression with alcohol, Versus the World takes a somewhat more optimistic approach to cynicism. “Oh hallelujah, I ain’t young, but I ain’t dead yet, I got more promise than regret” sings Spence on “A Fond Farewell”. The optimism does get a nice counterbalance in the following track “The Kids Are Fucked” which sees Spence goes on to sing about the “privileged little parasites picking clean our bones”. (Also, props should be given where props are due: “The Kids Are Fucked” opens with a clip from Freaks and Geeks).

Versus the World have crafted a solid album; one that will please fans that have been waiting for the past seven years, as well draw in new listeners. It’s a nice break from the projects that the members are best known for without straying too far from their roots. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t take them another seven years to record the next one.

4/5

RIYL: The Ataris (circa 2001-2003), Alkaline Trio, Bayside


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