The recent stylistic move by alternative rock duo VersaEmerge should come as no surprise. Singer Sierra Kusterbeck and do-everything guy Blake Harnage have been slowly, but consistently, moving in a more electronic direction since the band’s inception (albeit in a quite different form) back in 2005. With the release of Another Atmosphere Preview EP, a taste-test of VersaEmerge’s upcoming sophomore album due out this autumn, a fully-realized transformation from post-hardcore upstarts to alt-electro scenesters nears completion. Unfortunately, from the sound of the three songs on this preview EP, VersaEmerge still struggle with old demons.
Another Atmosphere Preview EP is crippled by a lack of originality, underwhelming lyrical content and an overwhelming sense of superficiality that will suck in surface listeners but drive away anyone looking for some depth. “No Consequences” is the bastard child of Breathe Carolina and InnerPartySystem. Kusterbeck’s lyrics read like a town celebrity reveling in her own self-created mystique. “Everywhere I go, no one says ‘no’ to me // they don’t, they don’t dare,” she blandly croons over an uninspired melodic beat. The chorus is infectious, but the emotion Kusterbeck relayed on VersaEmerge’s full-length debut, Fixed At Zero, is absent. “Bones” starts off promisingly enough, channeling a dirty Nine Inch Nails vibe, but falls apart with another weak chorus regarding “resting bones.” It just sounds so odd. Kusterbeck has an engaging voice, but throughout the three songs on the EP, her vocals are either covered in effects or toned down. Nevertheless, the guitar solo on “Bones” is a highlight. “Domesticated” closes the EP on a higher note, built around smartly done keys and some electronics that contrast nicely with “old style” piano work. Alas, VersaEmerge continue to stumble lyrically. Lines such as “I’m not done living in a world of experimentin’” and “just untie the chains that break and bind me” are simply ugly.