December 14, 2002

Dewey Decibel "Unnecessarily Beautiful"

Nerd-rock. How can you not like nerd-rock? Intelligent, silly music made by people who are smarter than you can often be a lot of fun. They Might Be Giants. They have nothing to do with this review, nor are they being used in comparison, but I feel a bit obligated when talking about nerd-rock. Dewey Decibel is a name that you can see as either heartwarmingly clever or annoyingly coy, and it just screams NERD!!

Dewey Decibel is New York's latest nerd-rock export. Unnecessarily Beautiful, their debut album, is a record filled to the rimmed-glasses of your typical nerd-rock fare. Warmly smart yet not at all smarmy, you're in the presence of--a talented bunch of fellows who are on the way to greatness. Sometimes the lyrics are profound ("It's clear to me/That I fail to see what I've got/Fail to see and choose to see/How to be and who to be", from "Clear") , or profoundly silly ("Who'd pledge allegiance to a bag, for it's a drag/National bag," from "National Bag") and even the outright absurd ("Calvacading replicas/Of Hindu god insignias appear/To pay for your next beer, from "Datebook"). Throw in quirky melodies that have a crunch to them (a la the Pixies and Clem Snide), and you've got a nice little combination.

My favorite track on Unnecessarily Beautiful would have to be "There's Charlie." Okay, now after praising these guys for writing witty ditties, why would I say that the best song on the album is the instrumental? It's because this song really showcases the fact that Dewey Decibel, underneath the jokes, in-jokes, and witticisms is a really great bunch of musicians. See the flaws that Dewey Decibel have aren't ones of content, but of technique. Occasionally, the vocals seem to muscle out over the music. Dewey's about the words, true--but at times it's more about the words than the music. On "There's Charlie," you actually hear the band--and it's great! "There's Charlie" is a straightforward surfabilly number, and you can't help but think, "Wow! these guys are really tight!"

Unnecessarily Beautiful is a promising debut. Sure there are a few pimples here or there, but this is a great start for a really fun band. Pimples are something that you grow out of, and with some growth, Dewey Decibel will be a shining young band that stands out amongst the crowds. Nerds usually do.

(And you should see his guitar design, check out for this precious little thing!)

--Joseph Kyle

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