If you are already a fan of US punk rockers Versus The World, new album Homesick Roadsick probably holds few major surprises and if a newcomer to the band, it will be found to healthily recall the pop punk exploits cultured and famed within California over past decades,. For all though, it will be a thoroughly magnetic proposition containing the most rounded and mature songs from the band yet. The release rumbles and strolls along with open contagion and undiluted passion to whip up attention and rich satisfaction, and though it might not prove to be the best punk release this year, it certainly reveals itself as one of the most enjoyable and memorable.
The third album from the Santa Barbara quintet sees the band returning to Kung Fu Records, the home of their self-titled debut full-length of 2004. As its predecessors, Homesick Roadsick was recorded with Bad Astronaut guitarist and producer Thom Flowers and as last album Drink.Sing.Live.Love in 2012, mixed by Ian MacGregor (Katy Perry, All-American Rejects). Fair to say that Versus The World has boldly and inventively grown in presence and songwriting since those early days, honing a vivacious sound setting them apart from the pop punk crowd, even with its recognisable inspirations. Now the line-up of band founders, vocalist/guitarist Donald Spence, bassist Mike Davenport (ex- The Ataris), guitarists Chris Flippin (Lagwagon) and Tony Caraffa (Murderland), and drummer Bryan Charlson have explored new depths and potency to it with Homesick Roadsick and conjured up another treat
It opens with The Santa Margarita, a song written by Spence for Tony Sly, the late frontman for No Use For A Name. Featuring guest Dave Hause, the track quickly has ears in a fiery embrace of raw riffs and sonic tempting driven by the forceful beats of Charlson. Hooks, musically and vocally, stir ears and attention, the song swinging along with an infectious manner and an incendiary energy in its builds to and eruptions of mini crescendos. The song is rich captivation, a rousing start continued by the less urgent but swiftly as flavoursome stirring of The Black Ocean. Heavy scythes of riffs pounce on the senses first, their inviting bait bound in tangy tendrils of guitar as the impressive tones and delivery of Spence croon with expressive passion. More a smoulder than the kind of roar expressed by the previous song, it rises to breach the same creative and gripping plateau before A Storm Like Me unveils its controlled but rousing anthem. Its chorus is an inescapable lure soon involving the listener whilst the guitars, as the vocals across the band, whips up the imagination and appetite with ease.
Seven Thirty One bounds in expelling emotive flames and tenacious exploits like a mix of The Ataris and Billy Talent next. It quickly sets another peak in the landscape of Homesick Roadsick, the bass of Davenport a dark seduction speared by the volatile swings of Charlson as the guitars of Flippin and Caraffa ooze spicy enticement and fiery persuasion. Further fuelled by the excellent vocal delivery of Spence, the track is raw flirtation followed by both the inventive A Brooklyn Rooftop and the addictive qualities of A Sight For Sore Eyes. Neither song can quite match up to their predecessor but each grips ears and enthrals attention with their dramatic and skilled propositions, especially the latter with its initial and lingering Ruts like jagged riff. It also has one delicious shadow rich bassline amidst a web of melodic and harmonic drama, a combination as fascinating as the songwriting bearing them.
The album’s title track is an initially headstrong rampage setting emotions and appetite aflame, and even though it dips slightly once evening out its attack as melodies and vocals emerge to climb all over ears, it remains a raucously emotive and physical tempest leaving pleasure full and greedy for the just as sizeable and persuasive presence of Bullet Train. Expectations are fed a little by the structure and invention of the track, but with another grouchily incendiary bassline, swirling guitar enterprise, and a vocal resourcefulness which only wins plaudits, the song makes a highly satisfying proposal before being overshadowed by the excellent Detox Retox. Davenport’s bass is carnivorous in tone, his adventurous and thrilling designs increasingly open and potent in the second half of the album, whilst guitars spiral from ravenous riffs into fiery entrails of sonic imagination driven by the energetic whipping of beats. It results in, as the album, an encounter which does not shake the boundaries of punk and maybe the band’s existing originality but leaves the listener encased in fresh enterprise
There is no lessening of enjoyment in the closing pair of songs either, Self Preservation Is Killing Us All first to flame with sonic and melodic dexterity before Our Song offers one final thick bellow of rock ‘n’ roll. They ensure a fine end to another invigorating offering from Versus The World. Homesick Roadsick is undoubtedly the band at its best, though there are times across the album where it seems to hold check on invention heading towards new and potentially startling doorways. It is an album to constantly please and enjoy nevertheless, and a highly pleasing success in anyone’s book.
Homesick Roadsick is available from June 23rd via Kung Fu Records digitally and on Vinyl/CD @ https://versustheworld.bandcamp.com/album/homesick-roadsick
Versus The World Summer UK/EU Tour Dates w/ Strung Out:
30.06.15 DE Berlin – Cassiopeia
01.07.15 DE Cottbus – Gladhouse
02.07.15 DE Erfurt – Eburg
03.07.15 CZ Mighty Sounds Festival
04.07.15 DE Aachen – Musikbunker
05.07.15 FR Paris – Le Petit Bain
06.07.15 UK London – Underworld
07.07.15 UK Manchester – Ruby Lounge
10.07.15 UK Brighton – The Haunt
11.07.15 BE Ostend – Elysee
12.07.15 DE Saarbrucken – Garage
14.07.15 IT Milan – Circolo Magnolia
15.07.15 CH Geneva – Usine
+ More TBA Soon!