The title track starts off this album, and comes out with the emotional content of a band like The Anniversary with the sincerity of a Story of the Year for an immediate hit. This mixture of a 2000 sound with something that is as fresh as a meadow will undoubtedly bring in masses of fans, and this mass will only get larger when one considers the talent in which The Panic Division brings each track on “Versus” to life. In a way, a track like “Goodbyes” taps an even earlier brand of pop in that the open-air guitars and emotive lyrics go back to Bryan Adams, especially to the original “Boys of Summer”. Each of the tracks continues the same strong effort by The Panic Division, even if the track itself is not quite as commercially minded as “Versus”.
This is the case of “Automatic Synthetic”, which uses a much more solid sense of instrumentation to wow all listeners. “Automatic Synthetic” may actually be the most intense that The Panic Division get on this track, as even though the style of music is nothing heavy compared to hardcore or metal, the emotional intensity of Colton’s vocals on the track far surpasses anything that both of those genres can field. The multiple layers of “Paradise” really continues the gravity of “Versus”, in that the guitars bolster the vocals which struggle against the drums for dominance. Even when the drums fade back to a more static role (that of timekeeper during “Songs of a Dead Poet”), the airy electronics of the track keep the music from growing stale; in fact, the infusion of later tracks with different sounds can be construed as a victory for the band.
One thing that individuals really need to take in consideration is that each track on “Versus” crackles with so many different things happening that it really is amazing that the band does not need to contend with an increasing amount of chaos. At forty-three minutes, “Versus” is an album that will effect emotions in much the same way as an opera will; different tracks will elicit much different emotions in listeners, while solos can be seen as the arias in which individual components of The Panic Division are really allowed to shine. This may actually be the future of emo music, with one eye cocked firmly to the past even as the hands grasp for something new to innovate their music and excite their listeners.
Top Tracks: Versus, Paradise
The Panic Division – Versus / 2005 The Militia Group / 11 Tracks / http://www.thepanicdivision.com / http://www.themilitiagroup.com / Reviewed 22 January 2006