Firstly, congratulations are in order. Weird Decibels have somehow managed to stay together for over 20 years and in that time have also managed to self-produce and release 8 studio albums – and even reached the heights of Band of the Day a couple of years back. Having been in bands myself over the years I can appreciate what an achievement that this must have been. The fact that this Falkirk four piece are still making records after all this time and even more so that have remained friends must have at times have been a struggle. I can testify to how the highs and lows of the a mostly unforgiving and uncaring music business can be.
I’ll be honest this is the first time I have come across the band, so with this their latest release Weird Decibels 2 I am reviewing the band and album as a newcomer. For those interested in their back catalogue and to know more about their journey then head over to their website (www.weirddecibels.com) and look up their section ‘Our Albums’. What you will find is one of the most honest and raw self-appraisals of their own back catalogue I have ever read. Interwoven into the story of those albums is the story of a band struggling through the times and it makes for fascinating read.
What the most surprising aspect of Weird Decibels’ story is that the whole world has not already heard of them. If the back catalogue is anything like this album, then these should at the very least be a UK wide touring band. The album is well produced and contains some great songs and if this isn’t representative of their past then the future should (if the world has any sense of justice) be theirs.
Opening Track “Kill It! Kill It!” is great example of what you are to expect on this album. This is a band that takes influences from everywhere around them and make it their own, with some great rock songs. With the opening bars of “Kill It! Kill It!” it sounds like we are going to hear a song reminiscent of Helloween (Dr Stein no less, this riff is repeated throughout the song and never fails to make me smile) before the vocals kick in and suddenly it is rock’s answer to the Sleaford Mods; to confuse matters even more, when the “Kill It” chorus comes in it is Motorheadesque in its tone and delivery. If this all sounds confusing and a little worrying, I assure you, it is not. This all comes together perfectly and what we are presented with is a great arse kicking opener to the album.
The mix of songs on the album really is a strength but for me the energy in the rockier songs instantly make them stand out. “It’s Who You Know” (it really is) is another good example of this. The shouty punk style choruses are punctuated by the almost spoken word Ian Dury-ish verses. Often the simplicity of the riffs enhances the messages within the songs and enables the band to try out different production techniques (like the loudspeaker style effect). When all the elements of this song come together at the end is a progressive and escalating final chorus. This song really does all come together.
“I Hear The City” has a much gentler start, and by now you should have had plenty of time to become acclimatised to the slightly gravelly vocals, so when some gentle backing vocals are also introduced it melds together effortlessly. The narrative story telling style helps create great images throughout the album. This song is almost a song of two halves though, the desperation and anger displayed in the second half in stark contrast to the acoustic guitar style of the opening. It is not just the vocals that sound angry but each guitar, bass and drums sound like they are having their guts beaten out of them. Another fantastic and well thought out song.
One of the highlights for me is “Quoted Not Voted” which is best described as the demented love child of 80’s West Coast punk like Black Flag and 90’s grunge. It is a sound I like anyway but the guys have pulled it off well here. The words are spoken and distorted and back by a screeching guitar. Think Iggy Pop when he guested on Death In Vegas or even early Eels vocal wise. There is just an atmosphere the guys create on this song that works very well. Right from the robotic lessons to learn to the sung chorus at the end.
There’s a change of pace with “Almost Beautiful” and it is another chance for the guys to show off not only their gentler side but also a different style of playing. It is actually a well worked and enjoyable song. Another song that has a different feel to it is the intriguing “Little Thoughts Lost” that reminded me of The Rakes. Again this is a gentle song but electric guitar this time rather than acoustic. Again great production adds to the song.
I for one am very glad that Weird Decibels have stuck with it over this time and I hope that with this; their 8th offering; that more people will join me in offering that congratulations and the best way to do that would be go and buy the album, see them live and support the smaller bands. There are bands like these all over the country and with your support they may just go and make a record like Weird Decibels 2. A record that can take you on a journey, can make you whoop for joy or pause for thought. When this album rocks, it rocks like a demented demon and on its more reflective moments it makes you take note and listen. It wears its influences on its sleeve but carves its own sound. A great testament to the live music scene in Falkirk and for perseverance everywhere.