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Along with Let’s Active, the dB’s defined the Southern power pop/jangle pop movement of the early to mid-’80s. The band’s music was a quirky blend of smart pop and psychedelia crossed with the more experimental side of new wave. Though they never received widespread recognition outside of critical acclaim, they provided a key link between Big Star and ’80s alternative guitar acts such as R.E.M.

On their debut, the dB’s combined a reverence for British pop and arty, post-punk leanings that alternate between minimalism and a love of quirky embellishment, odd sounds, and unexpected twists; Stands for Decibels is clearly a collegiate pop experiment, but rarely is experimentation so enjoyable and irresistibly catchy. Singing and songwriting duties are shared equally by Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple — Stamey, more quirky and psyc hedelic-leaning with a winsome, pure-pop whine, is nicely balanced by Holsapple’s more earthy drawl and straightforward approach. The album stands not only as a landmark power-pop album, but also as a prototype for much of the Southern jangle that would follow.

Repercussion is very much of a piece with the debut, repeating much of the same formula that made Stands for Decibels great — terrific harmonies, winning melodies, and catchy hooks with subtle quirks thrown into the mix. This time, they feature a fuller, more polished sound, but the impact of the songs isn’t diminished. Stamey left shortly after Repercussion to pursue a solo career.

Although it has already been released once before by Line Records, this one CD version of the first two dB’s albums is a wonderful collection of what is arguably the band’s finest hour. Featuring some gorgeous hooks and wonderful playing, there are few lulls in this excellent package. Fans may complain about pairing two albums that are strong entities when separate, but this is an inexpensive way to purchase both releases and should be viewed as the alternative to hunting down rare, out-of-print vinyl.

by Chris Woodstra,

The dB’s-STANDS FOR DECIBELS & REPERCUSSION (1981/82, 2002 compilation)
320kbps MP3

One Comment

  1. Hey, Stands for deciBels is one of my favorite pop records of the 1980s! Thanks for including these awesome powerpop albums. Stands for deciBels, Repercussion, and the 7″ for “I thought you wanted to know” are the best of the dB’s, in my opinion. It’s always great to know that someone out there is listening to stuff like the dB’s, and Chris Bell, and Wipers, etc. Awesome blog!

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