Welcome Home

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Finesse Ft. Notions
02. Soul
03. Closer
04. Sick
05. Paranoid
06. Never Again
07. We, Always
08. Welcome Home
09. Love Sick
10. Hush
11. King Of Pop
12. Gravity
13. Only Sad
14. 11am

New York City based VRSTY are a musical representation of the diverse city they call home. Their debut full-length "Welcome Home" is an extraordinary mélange of genres; a seamless combination of R&B, pop, rap, rock and metalcore. Fans of ISSUES, MEMPHIS MAY FIRE and RAIN CITY DRIVE (formerly SLAVES),will adore Joey Varela's velvety yet powerful vocals. What's more, he and his bandmates — Javy Dorrejo (bass),Chris Cody (drums) and Paul Gregory (guitars) — may very well have just outdone those acts with this release.

"Welcome Home" is a turning point in modern music, blurring the line separating the underground and the mainstream. Genres traditionally seen as opposites are woven together seemingly effortlessly in every track. And while other bands may have introduced the concept of genre-bending, VRSTY have refined it. Chugging guitar chords, breakdown and screaming vocals provide both a strong backbone and intense inflection points, while the more delicate R&B melodies and pop-oriented choruses flesh it all out. Opening track "Finesse" feat. Notions immediately lays everything on the table as it switches techniques, tempos and styles, setting up the rest of the record with the simple words, "Enjoy the show."

While every song on the record is supremely catchy, the most successful tracks are the ones that clock in at a comparatively slower pace. "Paranoid", "Never Again" and "We, Always" are melancholic yet resolute, finding motivation in desperation. Conversely, "Only Sad" is the least moving song on the record, telling the vague story of a substance-abusing woman that doesn't connect as deeply as the other tracks' first-person narratives. "Soul" also contains the only ill-fitting genre shift on the record; its Western style guitar riffs are sonically disjointed from the rest of the song, and only make sense when the listener learns that Varela was inspired by musical folklore of artists selling their souls to the devil, like the legend of blues guitarist Robert Johnson.

"Welcome Home" finishes strong with the tear-jerking ballad "11am", which is mostly just keys and soft, sinfully sweet vocal melodies. It's moments like these, where Varela is backed up by the simplest of beats, that are the most striking. All in all, the superb songwriting on this album makes it difficult to believe that this is VRSTY's first full LP. Whether you're looking for a fun sing-along, a heavy breakdown or a crooning tune, there is something for everyone on "Welcome Home". The future sure looks exciting for these NYC upstarts.

Author: Taylor Markarian
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