Sunday, February 2, 2014

Dum Dum Girls Too True

True confession:  I am partial to the Dum Dum Girls 3rd full length album Too True.  How could you not like a band with a name like the Dum Dum Girls, no?  The name pays tribute to the Iggy Pop song "Dum Dum Boys," and The Vaselines' album Dum Dum.  The Dum Dum Girls was the brainchild of lead singer and songwriter Kristin Welchez who goes by the equally cheeky moniker Dee Dee Penny, a pseudonym she adopted in an effort to cope with stage fright.  The other current members of the Dum Dum Girls are Jules on guitar, Sandy on drums and Malia on bass.  All of whom conspire to wear black vintage frocks creating a visual image that calls to mind a gothic version of 60's girl bands like the Shangri-Las.  Who Dee Dee happens to admire without a trace of irony.
The Dum Dum Girls came on the scene in 2008 with a self released 5 song EP.  Their early work is all hazy lo fi, from Dee Dee's bedroom recording days, and dream pop, which is an echo of her mom's record collection of 60's music.  Too True recasts The Dum Dum Girls as a throwback to the 80's, which is, as you all know, an era that speaks to me.  In various interviews Dee Dee has cited Siouxsie Sioux, Madonna, The Cure, Nick Cave and The Stone Roses as influences.  And it so happens that the bubblegum anthem of her rollerskating childhood was Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now," which I loved with abandon when I was a teenager but discarded as uncool when I discovered The Smiths.
Dee Dee's accessible yet somewhat cliched lyrics have more in common with Madonna or the pop hit makers of the 60's, who she was quoted as considering the "high bar" in terms of songwriting, than they do with the works of the "artistic collaborators" she cites as her as influences.  While waiting for her voice to recover enough to record the cache of songs she had written for this album, she immersed herself in the words and imagery of literary icons such as French poet Arthur Rimbaud, the influence for the track "Rimbaud Eyes," long suffering American poet Sylvia Plath, author of erotica Anais Nin and punk poet Patti Smith.  Dee Dee also harbored what she calls "an unhealthy obsession" with Andre Breton's Surrealist Manifestos, which proclaim the dream as a reservoir of inspiration.
No matter.  I don't find Dee Dee to be pretentious, but rather a modern incarnation of the bookish, brooding, introspective girl that I once aspired to be in the late 80's, who might be spotted carrying a copy of "The Collected Poems," sporting black thrift store fashions, practicing smoking clove cigarettes and waxing poetic about her literary ambitions.  In my case, only until reality and literary ambitions parted ways.  As Dee says, "It is never pretentious to feel or create."
The Dum Dum Girls once again utilized producer Richard Gottehrer, who was notably a songwriter in the 60's and went on to produce such acts as Blondie and the Go Go's, and Sune Rose Wagner of the Danish indie rock band The Raveonettes.  Too True is a guitar album that still has a certain amount of fuzz and reverb but is polished in the fashion of the post punk era with a bit of drum machine and synth sound.  Dee Dee has a beautifully minimal voice.  Her vocals remind me a bit of Chrissie Hynde, especially in the track "Too True To Be Good."  In "Lost Boys and Girls Club" and "Little Minx" I am happily reminded of Siouxsie and The Banshees, which is perhaps why they are my favorite tracks.  The Dum Dum Girls intention was to "chase pop into the dark," and I think they have created an album that will likely garner them greater commercial success and a wider audience, which is sort of the definition of pop, isn't it?

Dum Dum Girls website

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