Hailing from North Carolina (via New York), The dB’s were seen by many as the US college rockers most likely to break through to the mainstream in the early 80s, though that accolade ultimately went to REM. Links between the two bands were maintained, however, when guitarist Peter Holsapple became part of REM’s touring line-up, but now he’s returned to his roots for the first dB’s album in 25 years.
Nothing much seems to have changed in the intervening quarter-century, Holsapple and fellow figurehead Chris Stamey (along with bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby) offering up a master class in hard-edged jangle-tinged power pop. Before We Were Born chimes and chirps like an Americana Badfinger, while Send Me Something Real transplants The Byrds to a sweaty campus bar.
The production, courtesy of the band themselves, with assistance from Scott Litt and Mitch Easter (both names familiar to readers of REM album credits), serves the material beautifully, less muddied or roughshod than 80s albums Repercussion or Like This. Having said that, there’s an older, wiser feel to the travelogue ballad She Won’t Drive In The Rain Anymore, taking a leaf out of the Jimmy Webb songbook.