THE DB'S: Stands for deciBels/Repercussion

Stands for deciBels/Repercussion
Collectors' Choice

The smartest stateside Beatles cop since Big Star was also the most tense and intricate. In their early Eighties prime, North Carolinians Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey sometimes emitted snippets of chiming guitar that R.E.M. would later uncoil into a more relaxed jangle. But the Hoboken pop scene the band spearheaded behaved as a crafty superego to the Lower East Side's avant id--albeit subconsciously.

Most bands that want to puncture the clichés of standardized pop employ unrestrained noise splurts. As documented on this overdue reissue--which mashes together their first two, previously import-only, albums--the dB's splintered their regularity with more frenetic regularity: On "Cycles Per Second," drummer Will Rigby dents the clockwork precision of the tune with even more insistently punctual punctuation. And like the routine yet infuriated lovers' tiff it details, "The Fight" heats up the more it adheres to conventions.

Twenty-five tracks pacing compulsively from hectic to neurotic can remind you why kids vent their ids--teetering on the cusp of repression ain't everyone's idea of Saturday night. But when Stamey's "I'm in Love" follows Holsapple's "Big Brown Eyes"--both about exactly what they say, no more--the claustrophobic excitement of frisky hetero normality never sounded so perilous, or so lovely.

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