Thursday, October 13, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - 'Only in Dreams'

Did… did Dum Dum Girls just make a rockabilly record? Turns out if you scrub off all that lo-fi dirt and add a dash of confidence, DDG was a completely different band altogether. Of course, their taste in producers should have been a clue, as ’60s songwriter Richard Gottehrer and Raveonettes mastermind Sune Rose Wagner are certainly kindred spirits. The preview EP He Gets Me High was another hint. Still, hearing a record go this huge is surprising, and a welcome shift.

Only in Dreams keeps a few of the things that worked on the Girls’ full-length debut, I Will Be, like the haunting vox, searing guitar noise and straightforward music, and drops the rest. The lo-fi hiding is gone. Everything is out in the open and shimmering. This has some drawbacks, as mastermind Kristen “Dee Dee” Gundred’s songs do get repetitive. The worst offender here would be track three, “Just a Creep,” which has little going on beyond repeating the song title and a guitar lick over and over and over. In fact, I think the band only uses like three or four drum beats on the entire record.

But what Dum Dum Girls gain in this trade is far greater. Turns out Gundred has got an amazing set of pipes, and hearing her cut loose on cuts like “Always Looking” or “In My Head” is stunning. Who knew she could cut loose like Neko Case? Just as effective are her ballads; “Hold Your Hand” hits right in the heart. Either way, fans get gorgeous pop songs about missing somebody something fierce. Those poor folks missing the band’s noisier elements should be appeased by cuts like “Teardrops on My Pillow” and “Heartbeat,” though.

While the record is still a couple of cuts short of perfection, Only in Dreams is still a massive improvement over I Will Be, and hopefully a sign of even greater things to come. Between this and He Gets Me High, Dum Dum Girls have a stellar year, one full of reinvention and great tunes.

No comments: