Dropped from their label Fueled By Ramen, dropping half of their name and also dropping their distinguishable alternative rock spliced with theatrics aesthetic, VERSA (formerly VersaEmerge) have been through a pretty hectic couple of years. Slowly depleting down to a two-piece, Sierra Kusterbeck and Blake Harnage, the band had been tentatively expected to release their second full-length, ‘Another Atmosphere’, for a while, putting out a new song every now and then to keep our interests intact. However, following the sequence of aforementioned events, what we have instead is ‘Neon’, a free-to-download 3-track EP which states clearly the band’s new sound and intent.
Indeed, those after some more ‘Fixed At Zero’ and self-titled EP era VERSA won’t find any of that here. Instead, ditching the electric guitars and your traditional band setup, VERSA have instead gone for something can only be best described as space-pop or dark electro. The EP’s opening title-track is the most upbeat on here, leading us in with a basic pop-hook of “oh oh oh, oh-oh oh” from Kusterbeck and a standard percussion lead. Harnage joins his vocals into the mix with the chorus hook and, though this is clearly not the VERSA(Emerge) that we’ve come to know, it’s still very clear this is a product from the same minds.
Following track, ‘Illusion’, has a very haunting aura within it, and wouldn’t sound too out of place on a sci-fi horror motion picture, though it does have a somewhat trip hop presence, and confirms that Kusterbeck still carries her ethereal outpourings into this duo’s re-established identity. Then EP closer, ‘Wanderlust’, if nothing else, craves us wanting to hear some more from what is an interesting, albeit short-lived release.
It has taken a while for this pair to get anything substantial and new out to us, especially for a band who at the time of ‘Fixed At Zero’ actually had all eyes fixed on them for a sophomore that would push them into the forefront of the Fueled By Ramen roster with many of their peers. However, this extra-terrestrial repackaging sets them into a pack of their own and, come an eventual full-length release under this new guise, may see a level of success that may have been unobtainable had they stuck with their alternative rock past.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)