BY FRED MILLS
Pulsing with an ‘80s New Wave vibe and recalling everyone from Blondie to Berlin to Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Dum Dum Girls’ followup to 2011’s Only In Dreams is an auralgasm par excellence for fans of lush, sensual femmepop. The group’s essentially a vehicle for Dee Dee Penny’s (aka Kristin Welchez) songwriting, having started in ’08 recording at home; the Dum Dum Girls have gone through quite a few members over the years, among them fellow dreampopper Frankie Rose, and also have a sturdy touring lineup currently in place. But in the studio, for Too True it was just Penny along with co-producers Richard “An Instant Record” Gottehrer and Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes (who also contributes drum/synth programming and additional guitars). Considering the Wagner-Gottehrer partnership has also yielded stellar results for the Raveonettes, it’s no surprise that both the Raveonettes and the Dum Dums offer a contemporary twist upon Phil Spector’s girl-group wall-of-sound, crafting lush cocoons of noise that, while at times edgy and crackling with tension, envelop rather than assault.
And Penny’s clearly found her comfort zone, notably on kinetic jangler “Evil Blooms” and the terse, spiky “In the Wake of You.” Elsewhere Penny’s love for early ‘90s UK shoegaze is on display: the arpeggiated guitars and throbbing, dubby low end of “Too True to be Good” suggest a marriage of Echo & the Bunnymen and Ride, while album standout “Rimbaud Eyes,” in its anthemic swagger and classic melody, could pass for a distaff Stone Roses. Mea culpa: the first few listens, before I’d actually looked at the name of the song, I had thought Penny was crooning “bimbo eyes,” in the recurring line “You’ve got Rimbaud eyes,” figuring that rather than waxing philosophical she was lyrically clawing at a female rival or something like that in classic girl-group pop fashion. Sorry.) At a half hour, Too True might seem brief, but Penny makes the most of every minute.
DOWNLOAD: “Evil Blooms,” “Rimbaud Eyes”