Dum Dum Girls - Too True

by Rich Morris Rating:7 Release Date:2014-01-27

Over the course of two albums and several EPs, Dum Dum Girls sound has matured from its initial perfectly-realised but tinny and limited garage rock into something lush and heavily melodic. This third album finds the transformation complete: Dee Dee’s girl gang now boast an immediately impactful, crisp sound very reminiscent of the 80s goth-pop of Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Cult or The Sisters of Mercy. In fact, on the album’s cover, Dee Dee resembles no one so much as vampiric Sisters of Mercy bassist Patricia Morrison.

Despite the goth undertones, DDG’s music remains loaded with melody and enthusiasm. That these ladies love their jobs and still strive to craft the perfect guitar-pop song is palpable from the opening jangle and swooning vocal harmony on ‘Cult of Love’. Dee Dee’s vocals are more poised and sultry than before, and the music swirls around her in classic dry-ice 80s goth style, but otherwise it’s business as usual and that’s no bad thing.

Apparently, Dee Dee struggled with writer’s block while putting the album together but you wouldn’t know it. Second track ‘Evil Blooms’ repeats the trick of the first; it’s powerfully catchy with a thrilling hint of darkness some and great lyrics: “Why be good?/ Be beautiful and sad/ It’s all you’ve ever had.” That’s the 80s goth manifesto, right there.

Elsewhere, ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ and ‘In the Wake of You’ are total 80s drive-time new wave hits, complete with huge drums and chiming guitars, while ‘Are You Okay’ and ‘Too True to Be Good’ are tender ballads with big choruses, on which Dee Dee sounds like a less raspy Chrissie Hynde. In fact, pretty much every song on here sounds like a potential single, packed with the kind of killer melodies and ear-worm choruses most bands would sell their skinny kecks for. Sure, people can be snobby about such unashamed love of pop, but they’re deluding themselves if they think it doesn’t take great skill and talent to write tunes this immediately hummable.

That said, if you’re looking for any variation in sound, you won’t find it here. Nothing here challenges or is difficult to grasp. In fact, so easy does the album slip down, it feels like it’s over before you know it. However, repeat plays do reveal hidden depths. As on previous albums, a sadness pervades even the sunniest moments, as on ‘Are You Okay’: “But what if it doesn’t go away?/ What if this feeling always plays?/ I’m reckless at night and sorry for days”. Again, such deft songwriting, to sum up simply the kind of aimless nihilism many of us experience at some point in our lives, may look easy but it’s anything but.

Since Dum Dum Girls have now undoubtedly mastered the art of the instantly catchy pop tune, it would be great to see Dee Dee turn her hand to something a little more varied next time around. Why not explore the noisier fringes of 80s guitar music? Whatever comes next, Too True will remain a record of solid gold easy action. Don’t buy that disingenuous name: Dum Dum Girls are actually very smart. 

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