DUM DUM GIRLS He Gets Me High CD/12" EP

These four songs are a vast departure from the Dum Dum Girls' previous efforts, which were very easily lumped in with the recent '60s girl group revival; they are the next step in an identity that's constantly changing with Kristin Gundred-slash-Dee Dee, once a drummer and vocalist for Grand Ole Party and now a retro punk of sorts, constantly paying homage without quite forging her own path. This time around, it’s quite possible she grew frustrated with being labeled part of a revival and decided to lose some of the "my name is Dee Dee" shtick, bringing her band forward to a point vaguely between 1984 and 1993.

Lyrically, these new songs are full of terrible clichés fit for a Disney princess ("Tell me what you dream when you are fast asleep/Could it be of me?"), and round out with an appropriate cover of the Smiths' "There is a Light and it Never Goes Out." Interestingly, it's the cover that works best here because Gundred's vocal style has become enough of a theatrical performance to rival Morrissey's—the freshly adopted enunciation of an overly articulate, trained singer, no longer the nasal Mae West imitation with which she'd led Grand Ole Party, nor the distorted tra-la-la of her previous Dum Dum Girls efforts.

Musically, she’s made a huge departure from basic garage rock, venturing into broad noise/dream pop territory, which has also been done quite a bit in the recent decade. But it’s well made and believable here, save for the over articulation, which makes apparent the Smiths influence but turns a potentially fantastic EP into a bit of a bore.

There'd be a much better flow without ballad "Take Care of My Baby," which, while its message is sweet, could easily work better with the voice of Hope Sandoval, generally one lazier and more genuine. Again, Gundred's trained voice is too suited for theater, the way it's been molded this time around. The title track kicks off with a nice, thick, grunge bass, Seattle 1993 or whatnot, but then promise gives way to girly harmonies, again—too clearly enunciated. There's a load of potential in these songs; the Dum Dum Girls—Gundred herself, really—is versatile. But she doesn't seem to have found herself, and so she's constantly experimenting and revamping her identity, and nothing quite seems to be it. [Sub Pop]

-China Bialos


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