Review Round-up

22 Feb

Dum Dum Girls – ‘Too True’

People are much more forgiving of debuts. Aesthetically speaking, there isn’t much separating Dum Dum Girls debut ‘I Will Be’ and their third record ‘Too True’. This new one is a lot less lo-fi and has a much more distinctly 80’s vibe, but in almost every sense they are pretty similar albums. At the time of the debut people liked Dum Dum Girls because they were part of a hip new scene, they were charmingly melodic and they had some catchy songs. Nothing earth shattering, but exciting nonetheless. Two albums on and they can’t benefit from the lusty sense of newness. People have moved on to the next big thing and Dum Dum Girls feel very much a relic of 2008 – as relevent as Best Coast, Washed Out or any other band from that glo-fi scene. It’s not that ‘Too True is much worse than ‘I Will Be’ (although it doesn’t hold a candle to the group’s second record, the brilliant ‘In Dreams’) it’s just that it sounds tired and repetitive in comparison. We’ve reached the make or break stage and (a bit like Sleigh Bells and Cults last year) Dum Dum Girls have disappointed. ‘Too True’ has forgettable songs with predictable structures, predictable lyrics and predictable melodies. ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ is a good case in point; it’s not bad at all, just derivative in almost every sense. The tacked on synth doesn’t do anywhere near enough to distinguish it from past efforts, and the trite lyrics don’t help the cause in the slightest. Dum Dum Girls remain a serviceable indie band but their potential to be anything more feels greatly diminished.

4.5/10

You Me At Six – ‘Cavalier Youth

The other week I reviewed the brave and inspirational new album by Against Me – pop-punk at its very best. At the other end of the spectrum we have You Me At Six, who have made what may be the safest album ever. I found half of their last record embarrassingly likeable, and I still find myself listening to the likes of ‘Reckless’ and ‘Crash’ two or three years on. Those songs were tuneful, almost comically over-emotive and irrepressibly enjoyable. Against my better judgment, I grew rather fond of the band.

That fondness has come to an end. Any remanent of an edge and any hint of dynamism has been polished away here. They have taken those aforementioned power ballads as a template and tried to recreate them, without any of the heart or charm. These tunes sound like the spoilt and bratty offspring of a one night stand between U2 and Greenday (do you remember that awful duet they did once?). They have no teeth or soul – they are empty vessels for generic melodies and clichéd sentiments. The tracklisting tells you all you need to know: ‘Forgive and Forget’, ‘Win Some Lose Some’, ‘Be Who You Are’, ‘Carpe Diem’ – the songs are even more generic than these titles would suggest. The album closer shamelessly steals from ‘Forever Young’ whilst ‘Fresh Start Fever’ is a blatant rip off of Fall Out Boy’s comeback single. Every inch of ‘Cavalier Youth’ is bland and predictable.

As with most emo productions, the mix absolutely crushes any chance of subtlety or spark. If you know about the loudness war then you’ll know that You Me At Six are one of the biggest offenders. The songs are noisy from start to finish, to the extent that the generic choruses are belted out simply to be heard. It could be worse – if there were less sonic distractions you would be able to focus even more on the flat song-writing underneath. It’s almost like they want to overwhelm you enough to make you submissive. The fact it went in at number one suggests that sadly, it may be working.

2/10

Warpaint – ‘Warpaint’

Warpaint are an excellent band – they just aren’t great songwriters. Last time around they made some effort in this department, but on ‘Warpaint’ they seem to have given up on the idea, and it may be all the better for it. ‘The Fool’ had good songs, ‘Warpaint’ has great jams. It’s loose, it’s vague, it’s atmospheric and it’s easy to get lost in. Great jams but sorry excuses for songs. All the edges have been smoothed and rounded, there is no friction or contrast, no hooks at all, a complete lack of dynamics and no lyrics to get your teeth in to. Warpaint have undoubtedly played to their strengths and brushed over their weaknesses, which makes for a pretty forgettable album in the long-run, but fair play, it’s brilliant mood music to enjoy in the moment. Their breathy harmonies are intoxicating, the guitars are swampy and the bass-lines exude sweat. If you’re in just the right mood, songs like ‘Love Is to Die’ and ‘Keep It Healthy’ make for perfect background listening.

5.5/10

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