Dum Dum Girls have fleshed out their lo-fi pop into a fully formed, scuzz-soaked record with as much sugar as bite. Their 1960's glo-pop is a certain kind of nostalgic charm, filled with bubbly harmonies and hair tossing melodies. Yet there is something inherently lacking in the innocence... perhaps it's the original intention of an album about a women's prison, or the veil of fuzz over the whole lot of instrumentation. Either way, Dum Dum Girls provide an enjoyable foray into lipstick pop, showing that the girls can often write it better than the boys.
It comes at an appropriate time. The Runaways
, a movie about the band of the same name, has probably revamped an interest in girl-driven rock in the mainstream. That world usually stops at girl-fronted or singer/songwriter. Not many do the distorted pop rock thing well, save for the endless influx of new all-man bands playing the same stuff with the same aesthetic. Girl-pop, especially the bubblegum variety of the 1960s, has a special place in the spectrum and doesn't so often break the surface. This case is different. Kristin Gundred (under the moniker Dee Dee) writes solid, infectious, high-energy songs with her band of ladies providing tons of backup harmonies, and the result is more interesting than the dime-a-dozen boy equivalents.
The Dum Dum Girls have a brand of pop that thrives due to catchy riffs and the strength of Dee Dee's voice. I mean strength in a different way than forward, I mean it fits the style of I Will Be
in a perfect way. It's subtle, retracted from the forefront, probably thanks to producer Richard Gottehrer (co-writer of "My Boyfriend's Back", producer of the Go-Go's and Blondie). Dee Dee floats somewhere in the instruments, sounding like a ghost, and for the genre and the songs, it is just the right temperature. Gottehrer provides the right skill set for DDG's library, filing the sound somewhere between shoegaze and punk. Although some songs start to blur due to the consistency of the sound (each track has a similar kind of propelling factor, drums, predictable intervals, Dee Dee's transparency), each one provides ample enjoyment for multiple listens.
The record isn't all sprints and spats. I prefer the bop of "It Only Takes One Night" to the lazy coo of "Baby Don't Go", but I can appreciate both as solid songwriting. DDG provide a steady tempo (when averaged), turning the knobs from quick to quiet as necessary to keep the listener interested, and it suits them. They are, after all, obsessed with the cute-pop of the 1960's, and back then it was as much balladry as uptempo swoon.
Some records are just fun, and some records are too obviously trying to be bigger than their britches. DDG is neither. Their smart melodies and top-notch production make this a thoughtful record as much as an animated romp in nostalgia and carefree tunes. -joe puglisi
* * * * * * * * * * * *
MP3:"Jail La La" - I Will Be
Dum Dum Girls on Myspace