Dum Dum Girls have left some of the teenage nostalgia of their 2010 debut, I Will Be behind and are fresh faced with a 10-track dose of pop songs steeped in harsh reality with their sophomore album Only in Dreams released via Sub Pop Records on September 27, 2011.
The album kicks off with the punchy “Always Looking.” Metallic surf guitar tones are paired with a thumping groove that has 80s pop/new wave a la Bangles or The Go-Go’s written all over it. “I never felt a beat in my heart, til you made it start. I was always looking … for you.” Those are the kind of lyrics while seemingly simple and expected, encompass something I, and I presume most people can relate to—and if you can’t, you’re probably a tin man. Now, shake that ass!
“Bedroom Eyes” glides in on the wave of a smooth and dreamy guitar riff. The Chrissie Hynde-like vocals coupled with airy, echoed harmonies have me time traveling back and forth between the 60s and the 80s over the course of the next three minutes and 53 seconds. That vocal play really puts the POP in the pop song for me here and it undoubtedly takes the cake as my favorite track. “In My Head” also shines with grown up lover’s lament and gracious harmonies. “I’d do anything to bring you home, tonight. Oh, don’t you tell me, I am your baby, over the phone, it don’t seem right. Come home and kiss me, tell me you miss me, tell me it right.”
The album has several other perfectly pleasant songs that are easy on the ears but much less noteworthy. The beats lack variation, “Just a Creep” expels into handclap overdrive which quickly becomes obnoxious and “Wasted Away” seems misplaced. The galloping rockabilly vibe seems more suited for Imelda May or The Horrorpops and is lacking a sweet slide guitar or thumping upright bass solo. The exception on the second half of the album is the poignant “Coming Down” which lead singer Dee Dee wrote shortly after her mom passed away. The guitar is distant and trembling with reverb amidst molasses thick drum beats and despite the somber tone, Dee Dee’s heartfelt singing here makes me feel as if I’ve been invited in to share her deeply personal moment.
Thanks to all four ladies lending not only their musicianship but their vocals to this album and propelled by Dee Dee’s powerful and vibrant, yet cool lead—it seems they’ve pushed some of their own boundaries on Only in Dreams. Also, thanks to producers, old school pop professional Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go’s and the guy wrote “My Boyfriend’s Back” and “I Want Candy” for chrissakes!) and Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, the spot-on production value adds lushness to their overall sound, which I dig. However, the production doesn’t mask some of the previously mentioned faults, such as the same old, same old beats (also noted in the Grimy Goods review of their live show last year), handclap overkill and a song choice misstep. Overall, Only in Dreams is a solid album with a handful of tracks that will take to repeat on the ipod but maybe for the next album they should push those boundaries a little farther.
Album Review by Emily Saex
To Listen to/Download Dum Dum Girls’ “Bedroom Eyes” click here.
To Listen to/Download Dum Dum Girls’ “Coming Down” click here.