Lead singer Dee Dee needed a band to bring her songs to life, so she got…and before you know it, it’s strangely amusing just how related the story of Dum Dum Girls is to that of fellow label-mates, Happy Birthday. Not only does each band make the kind of infectious pop/rock that has you confused as to whether it’s too dispensable or ravenously amazing, but each one fronts a lead songwriter that enlisted the help of others to flesh out their own, respective, songs. But unlike Happy Birthday, Dum Dum Girls sound a bit more focused, a bit more ahead of the game and more so, a bit better in almost every possible way.
It definitely hurts both bands that their records are separated by a single week but they each deserve their moments in the spotlight – Dum Dum Girls’ I Will Be certainly takes you by surprise. The album’s moments of shining sun come from every angle and yeah, it will blind you if you’re not careful. Each song sounds like a distinct ray of light and although it’s packed into something both concise and brief, it’s the strength of each song that makes the whole album stand out. It’s an outstanding album, one that simply delivers its modus operandi through terrific takes on pop and the effects life, love and pleasure has on everyone.
The swirling magic that happens on “It Only Takes One Night” is grippingly captivating in conveying exactly how succinctly true the song title really is. And followed by a tapping, sneering guitar in “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout,” you’d think that they were a match made heaven. The only problem comes from, well; actually there isn’t anything wrong from an opening one-two punch like this. Instead of knocking on the production’s lo-fi aesthetic, Dee Dee‘s backdropped vocals and corresponding hidden background harmonies, or even the drum kit’s lost soundscape – no, all of the aforementioned is what makes someone like Dum Dum Girls that much more appealing. The DIY scene has been thriving for so long, it’s just that these four women do it that much better than most out there that it proves to be absolutely riveting.
There’s a stunning amount of diversity on I Will Be that it definitely takes a good ten listens before you’re even beginning to dissect its intricacies. I mean, at first, it comes off as a lo-fi pop/rock effort with words about youth angst and looking forward but upon closer listening, you notice that their influences spread much wider than someone as easy as Vivian Girls. Instead, you can hear the Yo La Tengo touch, a band so deeply rooted in their own DIY efforts that they might as well have coined the term; but it’s on songs like Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez’ appearance on “Blank Girl,” that someone like Magnetic Fields come bursting through the doors. Open-hearted and ready to be taken in or in some instances, brutally rejected, the sounds are downtempo but very much alive underneath this outfit – lyrics like “It’s so sweet to see you naked” never sounded so playfully lovely.
The album sets out to accomplish making a simple 30-minute album that brings in the waking slumber of spring to the forefront. There isn’t anything needed to be taken seriously but rather, it’s about letting loose and confronting your own self-importance with a slap in the face. Taken at face value, Dum Dum Girls sing like the old 60s girl groups they are obviously trying to portray, fortunately for them the talent level is set pretty high for this quartet of musicians.
“Jail La La” by Dum Dum Girls