In many ways, Homesick/Roadsick is a journey back in time – a picture in a time capsule if you will. If you take a look at the pop-punk genre circa 2005 – right around Versus The World‘s inception – to now, it’s almost night and day. Back in 2005, Blink 182 and New Found Glory were within their respective heydays. while now bands like Modern Baseball and Knuckle Puck have carried that mantle for a new generation of fans. With their third album, Versus The World seeks to epitomize their California-bred sound with stories from the road.
The album kicks off with “The Santa Margarita,” which also serves as a memorial for lead singer Donald Spence’s friend Tony Sly, the late vocalist of No Use From A Name. It’s only fitting that the song itself is massive at it’s core. The song sets a precedent musically that most of the tracks follow – soaring guitar intertwined with Spence’s vocal style mixed with a fast percussion cadence from Bryan Charlson. This is a very face-value record that works for and against itself. “The Black Ocean” continues the energetic pace, with guitarists Chris Flippin and Tony Caraffa making their imprint. Including Spence, the three-pronged guitar assault makes for many layers creating a huge sound, but also intricacies that try to make them different. There are solos here as well, like in “Detox, Retox”, that are not so much punk, but more classic metal sounding. This is a new wrinkle that has been added to the band’s forte since their 2012 release, Drink. Sing. Live. Love.
Spence’s lyricism on the album is very literal, with metaphors that attempt to make things sound a little bit more artistic mixed in. For example, in “A Storm Like Me”, Spence sings “I woke up slow/ I woke up late/ to ‘I dropped a line like cannon fire'”. Homesick/Roadsick, given the three-year time frame, is very telling on the band’s origin and legacy of transitioning from a side project to a full time band. You can tell that it’s a tireless effort. “Detox all day, retox my nights away / Cut my heart through the same song/Sing along.”
Homesick/Roadsick is basically pages out of a journal – eleven snapshots of a personal journey of being in a band and what to do once your band is taking a brief hiatus. Versus The World is a veteran band in a scene that still has an audience for old style pop-punk. While the album itself is very alike, often melding together at points, there’s a heart within it that makes it very real.