27 JANUARY 2014
Dum Dum Girls are a perfect example of a pretty decent band who have, without anyone noticing, become a really rather good band. They have charisma, some great singles and, thanks to their new album Too True, a distinctive sound, rather than just mixing the Jesus and Mary Chain with some surf-rock guitar. The band’s appeal is largely down to the voice of Dee Dee Penny, which is as sultry yet self-deprecating as Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes, but with an air of LA mystery that runs throughout Too True. Dee Dee says that the album was written at a time when her voice was completely ruined, in which she ‘worshipped at a tall pile of books,’ and it shows. Too True feels like a solo record, written alone rather than worked out in the studio.
This might explain why the album has a greater focus than their previous ones and why the lyrics are more interesting; ‘Too True To Be Good’ is pessimistic and powerful, whereas ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ explicitly shows the singer’s current literary obsessions. Calling a song ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ initially made me a bit suspicious but blatantly name-checking poets never did Patti Smith or Manic Street Preachers any harm, and the song is catchy and beautifully produced. It also shows how far Dum Dum Girls have come in a few years, as Too True, unlike their previous albums, makes you feel interested in the band rather than just entertained by the songs.
‘Evil Blooms’ is chilly and exciting, a shoegaze song sped up and given vitality with a great hook of ‘why be good, be beautiful and sad, it’s all you’ve ever had.’ Promo single ‘Lost Boys and Girls Club’ is sinister but the guitar line is weirdly iconic and memorable, while opener ‘Cult of Love’ will sound great live. Too True also shows that writing brilliant middle-eight sections is as important as writing good verses and choruses, if not more so; ‘In the Wake of You’ is easily the best song on the album because of its brief but thrilling ‘you can’t outrun the sun’ section in the middle.
It would be pointless listing any bands that Too True reminded me of because you could find pretty much anyone in there if you listened hard enough. What matters is that Dum Dum Girls use these influences to make a sound that is increasingly their own, and that there really isn’t a bad song on the album. My only criticism would be that there is nothing as good as ‘Coming Down’ from their previous album, but very few things are. Though it isn’t a huge leap in a different direction for Dum Dum Girls, Too True is the sound of a band becoming more interesting and writing some brilliant middle-eights in the process.