Dum Dum Girls - Too True
Music Review Too True, DUM DUM GIRLS (Sub Pop)
[embed size= "compact"]http://open.spotify.com/track/7whnjXylr32HsiLLpsK1yP[/embed]
Singer-songwriter Kristen Gundred is no slouch. Sheâ€™s better known as her nomme de plume Dee Dee Penny, essentially the core member of the â€œbandâ€ Dum Dum Girls. In four years, from her 2010 Sub Pop debut full-length, I Will Be, she has released two EPâ€™s and two full-length records, including her excellent new album, Too True. Whatâ€™s impressive about Penny is not only her output, but the arc of her songwriting craft, and her growing confidence in her vocal style, a cocktail blend highlighted by the influences of Ronnie Spector, Siouxsie Sioux, Deborah Harry and most notably, The Pretendersâ€™ Chrissie Hynde.
For her third full-length release, Penny teams up again with the production team, veteran Richard Gottehrer and Raveonettesâ€™ Sune Rose Wagner, that helped shape the Dum Dum Girlsâ€™ sound. When Penny returned to the studio in winter 2012 to lay down the basic tracks for a new release, she was dismayed to find that extensive touring had taken a toll on her voice. Months of recuperation allowed Penny to re-write lyrics and melodies to fit the basic instrumentation that was laid down by Penny (all the vocals, bass and guitar parts) and co-producer Wagner (who also provided the remaining instrumental parts).
From the brisk opening cut, â€œCult of Love,â€ the tone is immediately more minimal, while maintaining a large overall sound. It marks a certain high watermark in the Dum Dum Girlsâ€™ canon â€“ refined melodies, a driving rhythm, garage rock textures and a catchy Duane Eddy, â€œtwangâ€ guitar line.
However, itâ€™s not until the fourth track, â€œAre You OK?,â€ where Pennyâ€™s vocals are allowed space to be the songâ€™s central focus. Its arrangement is akin to â€˜80s UK rock-pop, namely The Smiths; itâ€™s no coincidence that Penny turned in a reverential cover of The Smithsâ€™ â€œThereâ€™s A Light That Never Goes Outâ€ for the 2011 Dum Dum Girls EP He Gets Me High. Itâ€™s also at this juncture where the presiding atmosphere takes hold on Too True. â€œLost Boys and Girls Clubâ€ delivers the most interesting surprise. Borrowing the foundation of The Jesus and Mary Chainâ€™s â€™85 UK hit, â€œJust Like Honey,â€ Penny explores a vocal style that combines the deadpan, sultry nature of My Bloody Valentineâ€™s Bilinda Butcher with Patti Smithâ€™s confident presence.
Thereâ€™s also a curious aspect to the Dum Dum Girlsâ€™ new record. Aside from contributing to the â€œbandâ€™sâ€ impressive resume, Too True may hint â€“ especially in compositions such as â€œAre You OK?,â€ â€œUnder These Handsâ€ and the closing ballad, â€œTrouble Is My Nameâ€ â€“ that the prolific songwriter has started to outgrow her Dee Dee Penny/ Dum Dum Girls oeuvre (Brill Building-influenced garage-pop), an inspiration, it seems, to a score of recent garage-pop bands, such as La Luz, Habibi and Cherry Glazerr, to name a few. Too True simultaneously achieves satisfying levels while points towards further transitions for Gundred to come â€“ a promising fate, indeed.