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Tuesday, Jan 28, 2014

Dum Dum Girls’ latest is their best

San Diego ex-pats achieve peak goth

By Jeff Terich

In 2012, Dum Dum Girls released a hidden gem, a track called "Lord Knows," buried between B-sides and covers on their End of Daze EP. Far from a leftover or a placeholder, however, "Lord Knows" arrived as the best song Dee Dee Penny had written to date—a slow-moving, ethereal goth-pop dirge that shrugged off the lo-fi fuzz of the band's earlier releases in favor of something more spacious and beautiful.

While early tracks like I Will Be's "Jail La La" and "Bhang Bhang I'm a Burnout" were a blast, Dum Dum Girls have committed to following their gothic muse (a dead ringer for Siouxsie Sioux) on third album Too True, and it's the strongest the band has ever sounded. Not that Dee Dee & Co. have sacrificed the infectious fun of their early tracks, but with production from Richard Gotteher (Blondie, The Go-Gos) and The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner, they've been fleshed out, cleaned up and given one hell of a stylish makeover.

First track "Cult of Love" sets the tone for the record, with a driving momentum and a romantic, late-night kind of darkness that's never bleak or fatalistic, but always seemingly within earshot of danger. Reverb-laden post-punk guitar riffs lend "Rimbaud Eyes" a slightly more abrasive façade, while the relatively simple juxtaposition of acoustic and electric guitars on "Are You Okay" give the illusion of shoegaze density. And with a slight drop in BPMs, the outstanding "Lost Boys and Girls" hits with an even heavier impact with its squalls of meaty distortion. 

Prior to recording Too True, Dee Dee spent some time recovering from having damaged her voice while touring, though you wouldn't know it by listening to the album. Her pipes sound in top form here, from her hypnotic reading of the title of "Evil Blooms" to her dreamy wordplay treatments on "Too True to Be Good." Her vocals have arguably never sounded better, which can be said of the band's performances as a whole. 

There were hints all along that Dum Dum Girls were capable of releasing an album as strong as Too True; now, that album is finally here.



Email jefft@sdcitybeat.com or follow him at @1000TimesJeff




 
 
 
 
 
 
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