‘I Will Be’ Dum Dum Girls – Review

5 Apr

There has been a lot of talk about British ladies domination of the charts, what with La Roux, Florence and Marina etc. But 2010 is fast shaping up to be the year that the Women of America take over the world – the pop world at least. We’ve already had stunning albums from She and Him and Joanna Newson as well as the debut from Best Coast to look forward to. Out last week was the first album from Dum Dum Girls, ‘I Will Be’.

Dum Dum Girls started out as a one woman bedroom act, with Kristen Gundred (or Dee Dee as she refers to herself in the sleeve-notes) writing and producing her own material. Early single ‘Catholicked’ attracted the attention of the blogosphere and before long Dee Dee was snapped up by Sub-pop, she recruited an all female band and Dum Dum Girls became a fully fledged rock n roll group. And this is the sound of a fully fledged rock n roll group. Sure, the drums sound suspiciously sound like the product of some garage band program or other but there is a ferocity and unity here that was lacking on Dee Dee’s early material.

The first thing that hits you about ‘I Will Be’ is the sonic landscape of the album. Dum Dum Girls sound is strictly lo-fi and the songs are buried under reverb, crackle and distortion. The sound isn’t as harsh as it used to be and they clearly haven’t used static to hide their shortcomings (something that you suspect most bands of this genre do) as Dee Dee has a pretty stunning voice and the band have shown themselves to be fine musicians live. They also haven’t done it as a result of lack of ambition, afterall they hired Blondie’s producer to look over the recording and they signed to USA’s most prominent indie. Whilst the cynic in me thinks they have done it because it’s of the moment and ‘cool’ there is no denying the warmth this record has.

The songs themselves are good old-fashioned rock numbers, indebted to Vivian Girls and The Ravonettes as much as The Ramones and Shangri-las.  All but two tracks clock in at the two and a half-minute mark and there is not so much as a sniff of self-indulgence or pretension. It’s also perfectly sequenced with an opening trio of dynamic, in your face pop songs, then first single ‘Jail La La’ before ending the first half with a classic girl group style ballad ‘Rest of Our Lives.

The second half is more interesting in many respects with guest appearances from Nick Zinner and Crocodiles and songs dealing with a whole host of emotions. The album is over in 30 minutes, closing with an unexpected but brilliant cover of Sonny and Cher hit ‘Baby Don’t Go.’ Dee Dee’s voice is powerful and as much as the reverb gets in the way it also helps to cover the song in a richness of depth and nostalgia.

‘I Will Be’ is a classically sequenced rock n roll record and despite the simplicity of the music and the very trendy lo-fi aesthetic it doesn’t sound generic or clichéd. Dum Dum Girls have played within the limitations of the production style whilst showing ambition to move towards the mainstream – and they haven’t lost a shred of credibility in the process. This is a very rewarding listen whether you’re hearing it for the first time or the 100th.

8.5/10

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