Dressy Bessy – S/T

There are two impressions you may get at a Dressy Bessy show – and having lived in Dressy Bessy’s hometown of Denver, Colorado, I’ve seen many – and those impressions are 1: These well-dressed hipsters with their sly asides may be too hip for me, but 2: their infectious music and sheer infectious joy instantly makes me feel at home. On their third full-length album, perhaps the only band to successfully meld the Elephant 6 styles of retro/psychedelic-tinged rock with modern power-pop and sheer bubblegum has created what may be the perfect pop album. And dammit, you’re plenty hip for this band.
In the space of 11 songs, the four-piece band has all the elements of a perfect pop album: Tammy Ealom’s vocals are cute and bouncy yet possessing a sly edge; the guitars by Ealom and Apples in Stereo alum John Hill are tight, perfectly recorded, and full of hook after hook; and the rhythm duo of Rob Greene (bass) and Darren Albert (drums) are tight and catchy. While Ealom had proven she has the perfect voice for the band’s style of power-pop bubblegum on the band’s previous efforts, here she seems more mature, a bit more serious without losing her playful edge. And, if anything, the band has even more hooks than before.
Perhaps the best example of a perfect hook-driven pop song is “The Things That You Say That You Do,” which uses some clanky guitar strum to deliver the memorable hook, and Ealom’s own drawn-out voice is perfect. It’s impossible to hear this song and sit still. A nice mix of guitar and bass provide the framework of “Baby Six String,” on which Ealom sings, “if it’s uncool to be common, baby I don’t wanna talk.” This is a good example, too, of how her own voice provides the perfect backing vocals when mixed this well. The bouncy, playful “Better Luck” is full of hand-claps and fast-paced sing-a-long lyrics.
Although the foundation of bubblegum pop is light, cheery music, Dressy Bessy prove they’re more than bubblegum, as evidenced on “This May Hurt (a Little).” The song, which appears to be about a good friend growing up, gets a bit deeper as it bounces along: “I don’t miss much of Josy much of the time / Though I know she’s feeling helpless most of the time / These days she may wonder what I’d done / I don’t miss much of Josy, what she’s become.” By contrast, songs like “Girl, You Shout!” and the absolutely lovely and charming “New Song (From Me to You)” are just light and fun.
Much has been made of Dressy Bessy’s retro feel, and the foundation of their music is clearly the sheer fun pop sounds perfected by the Beach Boys and the 60’s sound, but it’s clear on this release that the band has exorcised any pure retro mindset and placed themselves firmly on the forefront of the modern pop scene. Because, frankly, hooks are timeless, and such sheer fun, catchy, and clever songwriting is as much a product of today as yesterday. This is the album that Dressy Bessy has been gearing up to make, and it will clearly give this hard-working band the recognition it deserves. And if you get a copy with the accompanying DVD disc, there’s even more of Dressy Bessy to enjoy in video form!