Release date: July 31st
Versus The World are something of a pop-punk/post-hardcore supergroup, with long time bassist for The Ataris, Mike Davenport, and guitarist for Californian punk rockers Lagwagon, Chris Flippin, among their ranks. After releasing a debut album in 2005, they took a long hiatus before returning in late 2010 with plans for a new EP and tour which quickly evolved into the recording of their second album, Drink. Sing. Live. Love.
The album’s title really sums up the ethos of pop-punk and I can fully imagine myself standing on the barrier of a gig with a beer in hand belting out some of the tracks on this record, because these guys know how to write a good chorus. A Fond Farewell will stick with you long after the album’s ended thanks to its cries of hallelujah, and These Bones follows in a similar vein. Both these tracks make up a strong middle section of the album, after a slightly sluggish first couple of songs.
Give or take a few songs, the deeper cuts are where this album really shines, with the guitar work in Lullabye being a definite highlight thanks to its technical riffs and great little guitar solo. I really wish the guitar had been allowed to break through a bit more; guitar solos are rarely seen in post-hardcore as they’re pushed aside in favour of breakdowns and gang vocal sections, so a bigger emphasis on these guitar flourishes would have given Versus The World a greater unique edge over the hundreds of post-hardcore bands out there. Check out the ending of Donner Pass, it’s almost post-rock.
My main criticism of post-hardcore albums is always that they sound too similar because the genre is hilariously over-saturated, and the same criticism would fall on Versus The World. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, because there is a lot of good to be found here. It takes something really, really special to stand out in the post-hardcore world, but these guys have put together a strong album that might not be the great game-changer that the genre is eagerly awaiting, but it’s worth your time if old-school Taking Back Sunday is your thing, because Versus The World sound like what I imagine TBS would do if they’d have stuck to their sound around the time of Tell All Your Friends and Louder Now.
Even though I say the album is a bit samey, there are also stand-out moments that make Drink. Sing. Live. Love. worth coming back to. Give Angry February a blast and you’ll hear the strongest vocal delivery on the album, with a heavily emotional intro building into a chugging riff full of mid-tempo stomp and swagger before finishing with a huge guitar solo. The vocals of Donald Spence make this album the success it is, strong and powerful throughout, he carries the songs flawlessly. The drumming is solid as well, giving the whole album a beat that bounces in all the right places, and compliments the guitar and bass playing exactly as it should.
I hate describing albums as ‘growers’, but Drink. Sing. Live. Love. very much is. On my first listen I didn’t take in much of it, but after multiple playthroughs I was singing the choruses back to myself and thoroughly enjoying the whole album. Sure, there are a few dull moments and some of the more straightforward riff-based tracks become slightly indistinguishable, but Versus The World’s latest album is a great listen, if you give it a bit of time to get inside your head. They have a US tour planned, and whilst I’m not sure about other international dates, if you go down to a show, grab a drink, sing along, live, and love.