Album Review: The dB’s – Falling Off The Sky
OverviewGenre: alt country, Indie, Pop, psychedelic
Pros:The relief that it isn’t shite; a handful of pop gems; progressive experimentation that suggests this isn’t a swan song.
Cons:A lagging mid-section; some ropey lyrics
Power pop practitioners The dB’s return after a 25 year absence with a collection of near-perfect hits, admissible misses and surprising psychedelic experimentation. The drummer even writes the best song.
The chunky guitar sound and Hammond organ that drive the record provide a solid foundation throughout. ‘Before We Were Born’, with its instantly familiar sub-Batman riff, reminds us from the outset what The dB’s are great at – pristine power pop with an infectious chorus. ‘The Wonder Of Love’ follows joyously, all Beatles-y before a brief soulful interlude, while ‘Write Back’ is the album’s triumph and a completely irresistible gem, wry lyrics and all. ‘In a flash/My heart went out and got smashed/ You told me that I wrote with dash/ Now my hopes have crashed and my email cache is trash.’
A mid-album slump where reflection takes over and wallowing of the ‘Sometimes you choke yourself just to see how it feels’ variety surfaces, but suspicions that the record is a front loader are soon quelled. ‘The Adventures of Albatross and Doggerel’ harnesses the experimental psychedelia of SF Sorrow-era Pretty Things, Ogden’s-era Small Faces, and mid-sixties Who at their conceptual best – ‘I can see everything/ I can hear everything’ – and runs them through a Dukes of Stratosphere modernisation. This follows into ‘Collide-oOo-Scope’, another abstract sixties-speckled number with distinct parts that fades to an unruly close.
Things take on an alt-country tinge with the Byrds-indebted ‘I Didn’t Mean To Say That’ and the so-close-to-saccharine Americana of ‘She Won’t Drive In The Rain Anymore’, before ‘Remember (Falling Off The Sky)’, a downbeat/upbeat finisher. The vocal interplay is effective, the backing track almost-phased, repeating that title line ‘I will always be your friend/ But I won’t be back again.’
Falling Off The Sky almost feels like an album of three parts – the perfect pop of the first section, some mid-tempo ‘meh’, then an experimental and alt-country stretch out. The dB’s flair for taking a melody, and here an album, in an unexpected direction remains undimmed – this is a band re-discovering their stride.