Versus Shangri-La

For years now there have been concept albums, so why not a concept EP? Maybe the time has come for something a bit more challenging than the usual "lead track and two or three B-sides" affair, and who better than Versus to get the ball rolling. Shangri-La is not only the title of the EP, but the theme too - three of the four tracks are called "Shangri-La" and the other one is a song that was originally performed by the Shangri-Las. The title track is pretty typical Versus fodder - high on melody and with some nice vocal harmonies and fuzzy guitars. It's a solid taster for their forthcoming album and it shows that they very much still have it. The other tracks are interesting enough to invite a listen and turn out to be rewarding enough to warrant repeated listens. The Kinks track is one of the band's more obscure songs (which is performed complete with a Ray Davies' affectation to a faux English accent) - it shifts tune and tempo enough times to qualify as a mini rock opera. The other "Shangri-La" is an Electric Light Orchestra cover and they make it swirly enough to be cool. The final song, "Out In The Streets," has been slowed down for dramatic effect, but as a result is the weakest song here - maybe they should have found another one called "Shangri-La" instead. If only every band put this much thought into their EPs. (Merge)