(out now on Sub Pop Records)
Sweet and hard, like the candies that bear their name, Dum Dum Girls defy homological description. Cutesy goth? They own it. In their world, razor-fanged guitars prey upon bubbly pop in a battlefield of super-compressed beats, Robert Smith frolics hand in hand with Margo Guryan, and lollipops lick sugary people to death. And on the band’s new EP He Gets Me High, unabashed affinities for doo-wop and 60s sunshine pop collide with a devotion to British post-punk. The resulting concoction gets no frothier than on the final track, a supreme take on the Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” Dee-Dee Penny flirts with irony as she slathers honey vocals all over Morrissey’s evocatively dark lyrics, making the words “To die by your side is such a heavenly way to die” disquietingly agreeable. The other three tracks, original compositions, nod to other influences. “Wrong Feels Right” smiles at Sub Pop label-mates the Vaselines, whose 1989 debut Dum-Dum reveals their place on the influence meter, right alongside Iggy Pop (remember “Dum Dum Boys”?). Add a booming kick drum and “Take Care of My Baby” would be right at home on a record by the Ronnettes, a band they often cover live. Richard Gottehrer, who helped pen “I Want Candy” and produced Blondie and the Go-Gos, returns as producer, but this time shares credits with the Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner. Her penchant for pushing the limits of noise pop meshes with Gottehrer’s artful pop craft, making for a short but sweet EP, dreamy as it is ardent.
— Linda Rapka