The feminine, badass Dum Dum Girls hit all the right notes on their new album 'Too True'
Last year, M.I.A. said it best: “Bad girls do it well.” Girl bands are not just a phase; 2014 will be a continuation of the rise of powerful girls in rock — and hopefully see the end of “girl bands” being in a totally different category than “bands.”
Dee Dee Penny has been one of the leading women making her own music, and a role model, staying away from clichés while remaining feminine and badass.
Since 2010, with the release of Dum Dum Girls’ debut album, Dee Dee and the changing lineup have been successful and innovative. Their last album, Only in Dreams, showcased emotional depth as well as Dee Dee’s impressive voice. Another EP included a cover of The Smiths’ “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.” If a band is going to dare to cover The Smiths, it has a lot to prove and this might be a sin, but I like the Dum Dum Girls’ version better.
Finally, we get the third studio album from Dum Dum Girls, and it lives up to expectations. There is some growth on Too True, but it stays faithful to the distinctive sound this band has perfected over the years. Dee Dee’s songwriting really displays this progress: She comes off as confident and ready to move forward. She knows who she is. There is no “Teardrops On My Pillow” to be found on this album, and that is precisely why I love it. It is still sad and moody, but there is confidence and seduction as well.
Album opener “Cult of Love” is fast and reminiscent of ’60s psych-surf sounds. The first single, “Lost Boys & Girls Club,” gives off the same confident vibe. Dee Dee sings that her mind and her heart are void, yet the beat is slow with implied swagger. She may be lost, but she is still a leader of the pack.
Although its sound is unique, the influences of the band shine through on this one (hint: the ’80s). “Rimbaud Eyes,” the second single and my personal favorite, echoes The Smiths again. I mean, what band isn’t influenced by The Smiths? But Dee Dee, Jules, Sandy and Malia do it so well that it is fresh and original.
Too True is a mix of ’80s pop, rock, a little ’60s and a splash of what is current and now. My one complaint here might be a lack of diversity in tempo. All the songs are relatively the same speed, sans the album closer, “Trouble is My Name.” Lyrically, it is the deepest on the album; in it, the writer accepts both herself and her counterpart as troubled and imperfect.
My all-time favorite Dum Dum Girls song is actually one of their slow jams, “Coming Down” from the previous album. The song is so emotional, so sad, that it moves me to tears. It seems there was not room on this album for another “Coming Down,” and that’s OK. This album is for moving forward and coming to terms with your screwed-up self, not lamenting about people who have hurt you in the past. It’s summed up best by Dee Dee herself: “Why be good? Be beautiful and sad, it’s all you’ve ever had.”
Make sure to pick up Too True, out now on Sub Pop, and check out Dum Dum Girls on March 9 in Phoenix at the Crescent Ballroom.