Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Dum Dum Girls - Too True

Album review by soul1@thesoundofconfusion.com


Dum Dum Girls have progressed like few other bands of recent times. From the scratchy Myspace demos that didn't promise much beyond the odd throwaway hook, to the masterstroke of bringing in legendary producer Richard Gotterher, the man who's had five decades of overseeing records by The Angels and The Strangeloves, to Blondie and Dr Feelgood, to his recent work as essentially a third (studio only) member of The Raveonettes to oversee their debut album. Then something tragic yet remarkable happened. With a fistful of songs, many written in the wake of her mother's death, Dee Dee set about recording follow-up 'Only In Dreams', this time bringing in The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner to share desk duties. This saw a shift away from that fast-becoming-tiresome lo-fi, fuzzy girl group sound, and it also put on display Dee Dee's wonderfully warm tones for the first time. It was nothing short of a triumph.

There's been no suggestion of a problem with writer's block, as since then, the band have released two further EPs of new material, and now, and with the same production duo, a third album. There has been a definite sense of anticipation; a sense that a group growing in stature like this would give us either something comparable, or possibly even better than the previous effort. Fans will already be familiar with 'Lost Boys And Girls Club', a track that's been floating around since autumn, and it probably won't go down as their most memorable, but it's not a bad song by any means. There's a hint of Blondie, some good lyrics and the now familiar sound that they've established for themselves. In short it was a minor disappointment, but nothing to get too concerned about. First single 'Rimbaud Eyes' was good; the band were taking on a post-punk, almost goth-influenced sound. However, in comparison to 'Bedroom Eyes, the first single from 'Only In Dreams', it was a partial let down. Then came the promos for the album and the story was much the same. Something didn't seem quite right, it didn't have the effortless grace, emotion and power of its predecessor. Had Dum Dum Girls' got something wrong, and if so, what? Dee Dee's voice still sounds amazing, the masterful production is still there, yet this time it seemed to be there to keep the album afloat, not just to enhance a greatness that already existed.

Having had the luxury of a month to get to grips with this record, my opinions have changed quite drastically. In this world of here-today-gone-tomorrow music and in an ocean of other albums, 'Too True' is likely to get mixed reviews. However, if it is given some time, then it changes from a dull, sepia tone and songs that are competent rather than great, and it flowers into a technicolour wonder. In short, 'Too True' is what we call "a grower", and what a grower it is. First, second, or even third impressions might not be enough, but those who persevere will be rewarded. Now, 'Rimbaud Eyes' has the feel of a potential classic, pitched somewhere (perhaps unsurprisingly) between Blondie and The Raveonettes. 'Too True To Be Good' may not be their finest hour, but it still pisses from a great height on most of their contemporaries. From a routine, going-through-the-motions vibe, 'Cult Of Youth' suddenly begins to hit the heights they're capable off, and a twangy guitar solo will never go amiss; 'Evil Blooms' smoothly whooshes by encased in fuzz, as though it was a well-oiled machine; the gorgeously heartfelt 'Are You OK?' could have been a cut from the previous record and, like much of that album, draws comparisons to Chrissie Hynde - it's another example of the calibre of songs that Dum Dum Girls are capable of.

The gothy sound of 'Rimbaud Eyes' returns for the sharper 'In The Wake Of You', a track that's buoyed by a fab chorus; the surging 'Little Minx' should probably only be listened to at night: it has that feel to it, that sense of atmosphere that you get when the sun vanishes from the sky and things seem that bit more mysterious. It should be a misfit that 'Under These Hands' contains a small amount of psychedelia and baggy about it, but it works, and more than that, it fits. It's fairly customary to finish an album with something more reflective, something that feels like the closing of a book, or maybe just a chapter. The girls duly deliver, and the gently and evocative 'Trouble Is My Name' fits the bill perfectly and presents itself as another stand-out, even hinting at a future change in direction. 'Too True' will require a little more of your time than 'Only In Dreams', and it may be the sound of a band establishing a comfortable foothold for themselves on the musical mountain rather than climbing up it further, but if you have a little patience and give these songs the time to make their move on you, then you won't be let down. Keep the faith, we haven't heard the last (or maybe even the best) of Dum Dum Girls yet.





Dum Dum Girls' website

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Jan 28 RECORD RELEASE (The Echo), Los Angeles, CA
Jan 30 RECORD RELEASE (Mercury Lounge), New York, NY
Mar 07 Casbah, San Diego, CA
Mar 08 Backstage Bar, Las Vegas, NV
Mar 09 Crescent Ballroom, Phoenix, AZ
Mar 10 Sister, Albuquerque, NM
Mar 12 SXSW, Austin, TX  
Mar 13 SXSW, Austin, TX  
Mar 14 SXSW , Austin, TX  
Mar 15 SXSW, Austin, TX  
Mar 16 Spillover Music Festival, Dallas, TX
Mar 18 Exit/In, Nashville, TN
Mar 19 Bottletree, Birmingham, AL
Mar 20 The Earl, Atlanta, GA
Mar 21 Kings Barcade, Raleigh, NC
Mar 22 Black Cat, Washington, DC
Mar 23 Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
Mar 25 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
Mar 26 Music Hall of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Mar 27 Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA
Mar 28 Ill Motore, Montreal, Canada
Mar 29 Lee's Palace, Toronto, Canada
Mar 30 Loving Touch, Ferndale, MI
Mar 31 Empty Bottle, Chicago, IL
Apr 01 Triple Rock, Minneapolis, MN
Apr 04 Biltmore, Vancouver, Canada
Apr 05 Neumos, Seattle, WA
Apr 06 Doug Fir, Portland, OR
Apr 08 Independent, San Francisco, CA
Apr 11 Coachella, Indio, CA
Apr 18 Coachella, Indio, CA





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