Indie Rockers Versus Make an Artful Comeback

On the Ones and Threes

The influential New York indie-rock band Versus, which made two highly regarded records in the 1990s (Secret Swingers and Two Cents Plus Tax), was last seen in 2000 and assumed lost forever. Now, the Merge label — having quite a year with consistently solid records by Spoon, Teenage Fanclub, Shout Out Louds, Let's Wrestle, She & Him, and a reconstituted Superchunk — has given the revived Versus a new home. And Versus seem grateful to be back, singing, "To live again, you need new skin / When you're asleep, you need someone to save you" on "Nu Skin." On On the Ones and Threes, the trio creates brainy, Mission of Burma-influenced, loud-quiet-loud rock. Founding members Richard Baluyut (guitar) and Fontaine Toups (bass) act as co-lead singers, delivering most of the vivid lyrics in unison and creating beguiling boy-girl harmonies in the process. If there's a knock against On the Ones and Threes, it could be its dry, '90s production aesthetic, which may do little to appeal to 21st-century indie-rock fans. But that's a minor quibble for what ends up being such a joyous and artful comeback.

 
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