Tag Archive: Dum Dum Girls


This article first appeared at No Ripcord  on Feb. 10. 2014.

It’s hard to believe that the Dum Dum Girls’ first album only came out in 2010. After the release of I Will Be, the band released two EPs and another full-length record in the course of just two years. The band couldn’t keep up with the pace though, as their disappointing sophomore record, Only in Dreams, proved. 2013 was the first year in the Dum Dum Girls’ career without a major release. Now, they’ve returned with their third album, Too True. Has the break done them any good? Ehh….

On the first listen, Too True is far more lively than their last effort. However, that energy does not translate into staying power. Many of the tracks start to lose their appeal after another three or four listens. The problems are not necessarily with the songs, but the style. Past works like Jail La La and He Gets Me Highcame bursting out of the gate with heavy riffs, pounding drums and harmonies laid on top. In most cases here, the guitar feels buried in the mix, diminishing the power of its melodies.

Cult of Love and Evil Blooms start the record off right, but only as scene setters, not as strong compositions. The former wastes some Bond-theme guitar parts on the verses, with only meaty chords taking centerstage on the chorus. The latter has great harmonies in the bridge, but that’s about it. It works as background music, which is not the best way to start a record. Are You Okay brings out acoustic strumming with electric pickings, but the song doesn’t go anywhere. If a number comes in at less than three minutes, but seems to drag on forever, it’s doing something wrong.

Many songs have bits  and pieces that are intriguing. These diamonds in the rough aren’t enough to turn the track around though. Sandy brings out a fantastically bouncy drum pattern on Too True To Be Good, but the rest of the song is a let down. Little Minx comes out with a cool, massive wall of sound effect towards the end, but it’s only used once when it should have played a larger role in the song.

It’s not all bad though. Rimbaud Eyes may bury the guitar riffs a little, but the chorus is infectious and the the instruments have more room to breathe than they did on the opening duo. It will likely be a killer live track. Lost Boys and Girls Club moves a little outside the Dum Dum box.  A heavy bass groove combines with a rhythm that sounds half-machine/half-human, while the guitar’s sharp melody slices through the rest of the music, rather than being laid underneath everything.

The Dum Dum Girls have proved that they can put together great records. Their first album and two most recent EPs have been standout performances. But the band needs to play to its strengths, rather than a production style. This is not a band that sounds good with buried instruments. This is a group that sound best when they are in your face. After all, what’s the point of writing great riffs if you can’t properly listen to them?

4/10
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This article first appeared at Consequence of Sound on September 26th, 2011.

When it comes to the dreaded sophomore album, artists usually move in one of two directions: They either craft a worthy sequel that at least matches the success of their debut, or they crash and burn. Only in Dreams isn’t a failure, but it’s not a rousing triumph either. Instead, the Dum Dum Girls’ second LP is a lesser version of the work found on 2010′s I Will Be.

Most of the album can be boiled down to a simple formula. Nearly every song starts with a sudden crash into the verse’s chord structure. The driving guitars, bass, and drums are smothered in heavy reverb and atmospherics that disguise any subtle differences found in the progressions. Seven out of the 10 songs here follow this pattern. If you heard the first single “Bedroom Eyes”, you’ve heard more than half the record. Out of everything here, only “Always Looking” and its Dick Dale-channeling guitar line comes close to the catchiness of last album’s “Jail La La”.

It’s not all bad, though. “Just a Creep” moves from a sweet and sluggish opening into a goth’s dream version of a summer beach song. While the six-minute “Coming Down” gives Only in Dreams what many other tracks are missing: a chance of pace and a sense of weight. The song builds with Sandy’s welcome lead foot on the drums and crescendos into some impressively held notes from Dee Dee, followed by a sharp guitar solo.

If you loved I Will Be because of its reverb-heavy surf rock vibe, you’ll likely enjoy Only in Dreams. However, casual fans may want to err on the side of caution. There are some songs to love, but you can only take so many variations of the same theme.

Essential Tracks: “Always Looking” and “Coming Down”

2/5

This article first appeared at Consequence of Sound on February 28th, 2011.

When Dum Dum Girls issued its first full length effort, last year’s I Will Be, the band’s combination of indie and noise-pop drew in just about everyone and filled up venues from one end of the nation to the other. He Gets Me Highpretty much continues where that debut left off, creating fuzzed-out numbers that are both aggressive and inevitably catchy. While there’s nothing that will get your attention as quick as “Jail La La” did, the EP does have plenty to offer in its short 15 minutes.

It all begins with Sandy’s heavy, rolling drums for “Wrong Feels Right”. Dee-Dee’s vocals may seem smooth at first, but they show hints of pressure and panic underneath the surface. While the verses are straightforward assortments of riff and chords, the pre-chorus is pop-rock at its best, full of ringing guitars and echoing harmonies. The chorus itself is short but strong, creating a whirl of instruments behind clear, deepening vocals, almost like they’re breaking the surface of reverb in which they’re usually swimming.

The title track is a bruiser of a rock song, immediately notable for its powerful, distorted bass capable of leveling mountains. The vocal harmonies are almost Beatles-esque, with a singsong quality that balances out the rough instrumentation. The ending 30 seconds boost it up another notch as Dee-Dee repeats the chorus over and over, backed by ascending harmonies. The problem is that, besides the interesting bass and vocals, there’s simply not much else worth listening to on this number. The guitar and drums seem almost overwhelmed by the lumbering rhythm, so they stick to fairly simple patterns that grow tiresome.

The second half of the EP, “Take Care of My Baby” and “There Is A Light” move a little outside the formula to which Dum Dum Girls have kept faithful. The former moves at a slow, steady pace that allows it to build and put all the focus on dramatic, passionate vocals. Chiming guitars shine out of a wall of reverb, giving the whole thing the feel of an early ’60s ballad. The best part of the song, though, is the understated drums that sound like they’re being played at the bottom of a long stairwell. The closing cover of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” sounds like The Smiths by way of the early ’90s. It’s a rough and raging interpretation that trades out the melancholy of Morrisey’s vocals for Dee-Dee’s excitement of all life and love have to offer. The arrangement stays close to the original, but the Dum Dum Girls put their own spin on it with distorted guitar effects. Rather than being lighter than air, it is transformed into a heavy beast of a song.

He Gets Me High is a worthy stop-gap between Dum Dum Girls’ debut and whatever comes next. While it’s a very short experience, that works in the band’s favor, eliminating the filler that plagues many albums these days. Combine catchy melodies in every original song with a pretty awesome cover of The Smiths and you have a project that’s definitely worth a listen and probably worth a purchase.

3.5/5