February 10th, 2014 | Album reviews

Brock Potucek

Dum Dum Girls
Too True
Sub Pop

Dee Dee Penny’s new post on the Dum Dum Girls webpage declares “It is never pretentious to feel and create.” Okay … but to name a song “Rimbaud Eyes”? It makes me wonder if this album reaches for sophistication by stepping on the honesty implied by its title. Maybe I’m just disappointed that the solitary specialness of 2012’s End of Daze EP seems to have been a red herring. Its five lonely, illuminating tunes had that rare knack of using minimalism to serve the songs rather than the songs serving it; it made sense that Penny might have recorded them largely by herself. She uses that same trick here, having co-producer Sune Rose Wagner (Raveonettes) record pretty much any part that she herself didn’t do. But the result is much different, slicker and bigger, its gated snares and tubular bell keyboards sounding not so much “personal” as “produced.” And who am I to condemn that choice? While the last EP sounded great, it also sounded a bit like contemporaries such as La Sera. This one is a stab at doing something utterly new, for her anyway: a processed, professional rock album that hearkens more to the 80s and early 90s bands like Curve, Pat Benatar, A Flock of Seagulls, the Pretenders, and Suede, though without any of the latter’s sarcasm or campiness. Penny’s gorgeous voice in this context comes off like a chanteuse from a Totally 80s comp, notably Siouxsie Sioux but also Chrissy Amphlett from the Divinyls, and if that’s her intention … success! Where she falls flat is in her poetic aspirations. While she’s publicly stated that poets like Rimbaud, Verlaine, Plath and Patti Smith helped inspire this album, I feel none of their savagery here, no matter how many times she uses words like “languor.” The album’s best songs are the ones that sound the most like her, when she talks directly about fears and relationships rather than how “evil blooms like a flower.” In fact, its best song is “Trouble Is My Name,” which sounds minimal and personal and naked and … much like the End of Daze EP.
D.M. Collins