| Sound

Decibels: The Lesser [single]

There's a touch of the schoolboy band about Decibels, mainly from the promotional onesheet in which they  describe  themselves as '5 misfits, finding each other in the woods around the shire of Northampton', leaving  behind them a 'trail of broken sound men, blown speakers and blown away audiences'.

Big claims, especially in an era when a simple series of clicks in the dialogue boxes of Ableton Live can compress the most flaccid of basslines into something to leave speaker cabs a fluttering mess of torn cardboard and impotently vibrating cones.

precise vocal harmonies

But whilst the posturing claims of massive basslines and 'filthy percussion laden live shows' are to be taken with the same jaded sense of perspective as the 'thug lyf' scrawls on the schoolbags of private school weekend rebels, what's far more difficult to sneer at in Decibels' sound is their precise vocal harmonies.

In a song which opens with the glibly sequenced keyboard rhythm of OMD's 'Enola Gaye', before tripping through some Giorgio Moroder bass padding into a melodic sequence that forces you to chew your lip and dredge your synaptic pathways for the song you've heard recently that sounded really similar, the part that can't be brushed aside with a hipster's disdain is the purity of the three vocals harmonising the lead singer. 

By then it's irrelevant that the song that sounded really familiar was Summer Camp's 'Better Off without You', because Decibels have earned their right to be listened to. A right which they almost blow at the indie-credibility-compulsory breakdown two minutes in, where the song wanders off to become a completely different composition entirely.

visible comb-overs

This  time, judging by Stuart Bruce's jittering lead vocal, a composition fallen off the back of the lorry that is Maximo Park's current album in progress (ominously, in the Decibels promo picture there are two distinctly visible comb-overs).

But all that scornful ribbing aside, those boys can sing. The choirboy reach at forty seconds in is clean and pure, making all the zeitgeist production and soon-to-sound dated percussive overeagerness unnecessary. Well enough that (extending the Maximo Park reference) Warp Records have picked one of their tracks for their mid-March Bleep compilation and that the likes of Artrocker, Mixmag and i-D are furiously scrabbling to get their Decibels pieces to print, tipping the Northampton woods-wanderers as one of the (many, many, many) ones to watch for in 2012. 

'The Lesser' though, is melodic, it's hooky, and it's exuberant well-sung pop sprinkled copiously with the proverbial magic dust.

And in that wonderful tradition so beloved by the Moroder-produced disco classics that the band overtly reference throughout, it has the glorious piquancy between a melody that exudes joy, and a lyrical content that describes bleak heartbreak:

'I'm a lesser, I'm a lesser.
I've always been hated by your friends,
Doing what I do.
I'd rather be hated by your friends,
Adored by you.'

Out on 21st March from decibels.tv on download or hand-packaged CD.


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