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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Sing Out America!
Polyvinyl Records

Rating: 5/10 ?

April 4, 2005
I'm not entirely sure which element of Decibully's third album, Sing Out America!, is responsible for its refusal to sit comfortably. Perhaps, given the likelihood that a less-premature summer release would certainly correspond with the album's aura to a greater extent, its timing is to blame. On the other hand, I find the intro to "I'm Gonna Tell You" - which, incidentally, would serve as a more-than-fitting soundtrack to a transitional scene in an old Western movie - difficult to take seriously.

Moreover, there exists an undeniable American-ness, which I'm sure is particularly clear when observed from the semi-neutral perspective of my undeniably British armchair. This mere observation may not be accountable for my unease, but its prevalence has definitely helped shape, and thus mixed my feelings towards Decibully.

Unlike the band's Polyvinyl debut, City of Festivals, Sing Out America! was written by the band as a cohesive septet, and, indeed, it shows. At the hub of their broadening lies a clear Jeff Buckley/alt-country influence, which fills the gaps that the band's sophomore effort left empty and subsequently, Sing Out America! feels comfortable with itself.

My thinking is that this developed self-assurance is down to Decibully's extensive touring regime, during which the band discovered a more accomplished sound, having learnt to incorporate elements brought by each individual member, and consequently, enabling them to produce a recording more consistent with their live show.

However, great records are not determined by consistency alone. Decibully's repertoire, which might sound interesting when observed as a series of unattached snapshots, fails to compliment itself as an album. It almost feels as if they are trying too hard, causing them to come across as somewhat contrived. For every one of William J. Seidel's well-captured high notes, or each of Eric Holliday's neat banjo licks, there runs a cheesy undercurrent that fails to hide itself, making Sing Out America! a tiring listen.

While it would be tough to pick holes in Decibully's competence, Sing Out America! falls disappointingly short of hummable, let alone captivating. It muses over itself, neglecting the charisma essential for a catchy indie-pop record, and as a result, any interest brought about by their playing ability quickly expires.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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