Music trend of 2003 #287: Bands with a billion freaking members.
With the rise of bands like The Polyphonic Spree and Broken Social Scene, it’s clear that the way to success is to never kick anyone out of the band, even when you find more musicians. It must be impossible to make money this way, but hey, you get more input for songwriting and a more well-rounded group of musicians.
One of the more interesting shoegazer armies out there is Decibully, a seven-piece group made of Camden and Promise Ring veterans. But Decibully’s sound isn’t dictated by that of its members’ previous bands. Their Polyvinyl debut, City of Festivals is more of a soulful album than that of seven heartbroken white boys. There’s plenty of emotion in the lyrics, of course, but vocalist William Seidel sings of topics more far-reaching than those of the boy-wants-girl/love-and-loss variety.
Decibully benefits from their abundance of musicians. The seven core members, plus a handful of guests, turn simple melodies into densely layered compositions. The obvious thing to say is that Decibully is more “mature” than its predecessors, but in this case, that translates into skilled and more refined.
Like the aforementioned Polyphonics, Decibully puts everyone’s voice to use. The choir-like approach gives some of these songs a warmth that seems to be absent from a lot of those of their whiny peers. In some cases, like “Spiderbites,” the vocal strata is beautiful and graceful. In others, like “Uncle Sam’s Yard,” it’s awkward and goofy, yet still endearing.
Decibully are at their most impressive when they get a little sexy. In “Skipping Over Goodbyes,” Seidel becomes a very un-emo anti-hero who’s just out to get some. A hot Rhodes riff carries the infectious song, as Seidel sings of his desire not to stick around. In subject matter and in melody, the song could easily be a modern update to “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” in reverse.
Another of City of Festivals‘ finest moments comes in “Your Love is a Tempo,” the first decent white guy slow jam ever. The band takes a page from Al Green’s book of slow, sweet, soulful love-makin’ music and creates a sexy little number of their own.
City of Festivals is an impressive and truly unexpected debut from musicians whose pasts now seem trivial. They’ll probably have to work extra hard to make a buck, seeing as how there’s so damn many of them, but at the very least, they’re capable of making something truly mind-blowing together.
Promise Ring – Wood/Water
Broken Social Scene – You Forgot it In People
Sunny Day Real Estate – How It Feels to Be Something O
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.