I had never even heard of the relatively underground indie rock band Versus before I came upon this single of theirs, but I’m so glad that I have now. They were formed in 1990 in New York and pretty much fall in line with all the grunge-influenced rock stuff that was in high rotation at the time. If you’re into bands like Pixies, Sonic Youth, Superchunk, and Yo La Tengo, you’d probably dig the similarly fuzzy, slightly sullen sounds of Versus. With that said, though, I listened to “Frog” alongside some of their other singles, like “Bright Light” and “Big Head On”, and the differences between the former and the latter are surely notable. The other two songs are a bit more jangly and poppier, certainly more uptempo and more connected to a truer sense of soaring melody. “Frog” stands apart as a breakup song of sorts, or maybe one that nervously dreads the inevitability of such. The lyrics are honest and simple, almost childishly so (“I need to be your friend / I don’t want this to end”).
The melody in these verses is also very uncomplicated, dancing around itself in seeming uncertainty, with vocalists Richard Baluyut and Fontaine Toups sounding almost tired in their delivery. The best part, however, comes right after the second chorus during which a sudden wall of fuzzy guitar noise pervades the scene. Baluyut and Toups are a little more intense in their delivery at these points, and the feeling of emotional catharsis in these moments is pretty thrilling. Yet it’s after this part, in the final third, where the song gets a bit perplexing. This is where the “frog” part of the song comes into play, with such corny, awful lines like, “You really know how to hop / Hoppity hop, hoppity hop”. The only real interpretation I can pull from this is that the frog is a metaphor for the speaker’s lover, who wanders and hops around from place to place, unwilling or unable to be contained. Maybe this is a stretch, but it’s not as if these lyrics tease onto any complex imagery anyway. In any case, I think this is a pretty cute song, but I’d be more inclined to give relistens to some of Versus’ more formally and thematically interesting compositions.
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