In the '80s, the dB's recorded some of the most lasting power and jangle pop ever put to tape. They were part of a vanguard of bands in the Southeast at that time -- also including R.E.M. and the Mitch Easter-led Let's Active -- that merged classic pop idioms of the '60s and '70s with progressive and sometimes experimental ideas.
The original lineup of Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Gene Holder and Will Rigby was short-lived, with Stamey departing the group after the band's sophomore release, "Repercussion," in 1982. And though the group held together only through the late '80s, most of the founding members remained musically active, producing, recording and performing alone and with other notable acts including the Continental Drifters, R.E.M., Yo La Tengo, Steve Earle and a host of others.
The dB's have nothing to prove these days. The lack of popular enthusiasm for their seminal recordings -- which stood in stark contrast to the critical reception at the time -- has long been replaced by reverence amongst those with the time and propensity to care about overlooked but artistically important records: musicians, record store clerks, critics and serious fans.
That there's nothing to prove makes it evident that the purpose of "Falling Off the Sky" -- the band's first release in 25 years -- is nothing short of pure enjoyment. From the first notes of "That Time Is Gone," the majesty of guitar-driven pop rings through with gravity and clarity that few others have been able to summon. That dB's magic is present in the horn heavy swagger of "The Wonder of Love" and the note-bending finger wag that is "World to Cry."
While this record brims with pop gems -- "Before We Were Born," "She Won't Drive In the Rain Anymore" and "Send Me Something Real" are particularly wonderful -- the crown jewel is the golden vocal harmony of Stamey and Holsapple, whose voices are frequently silky and seamless. This foursome has tangible and rare chemistry, and whether or not they continue to make records, their legacy is sealed.
"Falling Off the Sky" will be released on the Bar/None label on June 12, 2012.