Dressy Bessy – Sound Go Round

Dressy Bessy
Sound Go Round

It’s impossible to live in Denver and not be aware of pop darlings Dressy Bessy. I saw them play several times in the two years I lived there, and while I always enjoyed their playful, sweet pop, they never seemed as tight and mature as Denver’s other pop wunderkids, The Apples in Stereo. With Sound Go Round, the band’s second full-length, their maturity matches their talent, and they’re ready to take their place in the upper levels of the pop echelon.
This quartet is all about pop – at times pop-punk, at times pop-rock, at times just power-pop, but mostly just pop. Lead singer Tammy Ealom’s candy-coated vocals are so cute and sweet that you might get a cavity if you listen too often. With extremely bouncy, playful rhythms and strong guitars from former Apples in Stereo guitarist John Hill, the band successfully manages the extremely difficult task of making 13 playful girl-pop songs still sound different and fresh.
“I Saw Cinnamon” is an odd but effective way to start the album. With guitar lines so thick you could stand on them evoking images of early Sonic Youth and mid-90s grunge, the light, bouncy vocals and rhythm are a stark but effective contrast. Following it up is one of the lightest songs, “There’s a Girl,” ultra-sweet and tambourine filled. Much slower – you’ll sway instead of bounce – “Just Being Me” is retro-cute, while the hand-claps and sing-repeat vocals on “That’s Why” are very contagious.
There’s some nice keyboards to help fill out “Buttercups,” and instead of just relying on sweet, bouncy vocal stylings, Ealom proves she can really sing, with a bit of a serious side. I think that’s what makes this album stand out to me, that serious side of singing. “All These Colors” slows things down, and Ealom’s vocals remind me of Tonya Donnelly. Suddenly forsaking simple pop, this song blends reverby guitars and swirling keyboards, making it one of my favorite tracks. Some of the band’s best songs ever come at the end of this album, like the power-pop of “Flower Jargon,” the quirky, bouncy “Fare Thee Well,” and the amazing closer, “Carry On.” This track is the longest on the album, and filled with crunchy guitars, powerful vocals, and tons of hooks, it’s perhaps the band’s best.
Dressy Bessy seems to have grown up on this album. The vocals, while relying on their bouncy, cute quality before, are much stronger here, and that makes a big difference. With guitars that are as confident light and airy as thick and rocking, the band is able to flow from styles resembling Apples in Stereo to Sleater-Kinney. They’ve already made a name for themselves, but now they’re proved they have the talent to last. This is an excellent pop album.