Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be (Sub Pop) 29/03/2010
April 8, 2010 by Neale Ross
The first full length LP from the Dum Dum Girls, originally a solo-project of Kristin “Dee Dee Penny” Gundred, sees the recruitment of three new band members and the hiring of Richard Gottehrer (producer of The Go-Gos and Blondie) to help out with production duties. With these new additions, fans of Dee Dee’s earlier material needn’t worry about too much polish as the production is crisp, yet maintains the exciting edge and rawness that made Dee Dee’s earlier homemade recordings so appealing.
Its no secret that ’60s pop is as much as an influence to the Dum Dum Girls’ sound as the C86 Indie scene in the mid eighties. “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout” in particular is what Nancy Sinatra would sound like if she had the likes of Fuzzbox or The Soup Dragons as her backing band. “Jail La La”, one of Dee Dee’s older tracks, is refurbished for this LP and proves that Dee Dee undoubtedly has an ear for writing exceptionally catchy melodies, which are further enhanced thanks to the added bite and clarity brought to the vocals by Gottehrer’s efforts behind the desk.
“Oh Mein Me” (sung completely in German) contains swirling distorted guitars along with boisterous vocals that have been bitcrushed to the max, perhaps as a reminder of the Dum Dum Girls’ earlier lo-fi material. This doesn’t distract from the music however, if anything it enhances the energetic performance as the contrasting styles of Dee Dee’s fuzz and Gottenhrer’s clean production merge wonderfully here. Yeah Yeah Yeah’s guitarist Nick Zinner contributes on “Yours Alone”, resulting in some neat background textures that subtlety adds a touch of richness to the track. “Blank Girl”, a song about first love, features a duet with Dee Dee’s husband, Brandon Welchez (of LA shoegaze band Crocodiles) and creates a comforting tone without being too sentimental.
The closing track is a fitting choice of cover (Sonny and Cher’s “Baby Don’t Go”) as not only does it furthermore show the influence of vintage pop, but it gives Dee Dee the chance to demonstrate her more delicate side. Here the vocals and guitars are spaced out under a mass of reverberation, resulting in some elegant dream pop.
Aside from the clearer production, what makes this LP an improvement from the Dum Dum Girls’ earlier EPs is that the music now sounds tighter, and more crucially, like a proper rock band performance rather than a solo lo-fi project. It should also be noted that three out of the four band members provide vocals, resulting in gorgeous harmonies that greatly assist in strengthening the overall sound.
The only real quibble I have with “I Will Be” is that there are moments when it can sound a bit repetitive, however as the album is only about 30 minutes long and packed full of short, joyful tunes (with the majority of them rewarding you with every listen), this can be excused. This may not be the most original album you will hear this year, but when it is packed full of uplifting songs, raw guitars, catchy melodies and splendid girl group harmonies, who cares?