What is basically the first album from the dB's in 25 years (and arguably only the second in 30) has turned out to be a welcome surprise on many levels, not least that it so good, with a set that sounds as close to a return to the mind meld between Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey as we could have hoped for. It feels as if they are well aware of their strengths and weaknesses both, playing effectively within their limitations. The Wikipedia entry makes it "jangle pop/power pop" and that's as good a way as any to start on this mess. But don't forget the overarching indie aesthetic, which remains important as constraining and ultimately defining element. The songs are verse/chorus/verse with lines that rhyme and stories about being in love, finding it, losing it, appreciating it, thinking about it a lot, still. No late midlife crisis this, as often as not evidently at peace with its decisions, living with them, unlike the youthful angst none of us can help, and which they rightly and neatly step the hell away from. Instead it's just about getting down to the matter of working with what they have, the stuff of their lives and memories and a persistent way of getting songs to fit together and work. It's much more often "beautiful" than "interesting," which I count as the happiest surprise of all. As we all know by now, or should, "nothing lasts," and so it was hard to know what the old crew had in mind and/or were capable of. It turns out to be pretty simple. They are still here, still in command of their various powers, still productive as a unit, with no airs or pretensions. The sequencing has some feel of a series of careful, deliberate statements: "That Time Is Gone," "Before We Were Born," "The Wonder of Love," it opens, moving quickly to the sublime, with soaring melodies and wide open singing and harmonies. Every track here is solid. I never would have guessed the dB's had another album in them. There might be more. But even if there's not this is as strikingly good a way of going out as any other I can think of at the moment. Feels like going home in a way, and infinitely sweet when it catches you in the right mood.