Review: Dum Dum Girls – Too True
In the summer of 2012, Dee Dee Penny withdrew into herself and her New York apartment like a silkworm with the explicit intention of weaving a new, regenerative musical tapestry. Closing the book on previous release, End of Daze and, after waiting patiently for the threads of inspiration to float by (and even more patiently knotting them together), she’s emerged with her third offering – Too True.
Released with Inertia via the legendary Sub Pop Records, Too True is an unashamedly pop record that crackles on the tongue like a sherbet lolly. A far cry from the swooping, drowning, almost shoegazey reverberations of the well-known (and, my personal favourite) track ‘Coming Down’, Too True is amped-up and sticks its chest out proudly. Easing itself out of a “confused, difficult, disastrous” trench coat of recent experience to reveal a sparkling, high-cut leotard.
I felt more oriented in this new landscape upon discovering that Sune Rose Wagner (fifty percent of Danish duo The Raveonettes) lent a hand in the production work – it shakes off Raveonette pop rhinestones like a greyhound that’s been swimming in an amethyst sea. That’s not to say that it’s flippant in its obvious self-enjoyment – the drums of opening track Cult of Love beat insistently in Joy Division-esque, neck-rolling rhythms that make your knees knock together in their skinny jeans.
There’s plenty of intention behind the change of direction, and Dee Dee describes her venture to East West Studios in Hollywood in search of a “bigger, darker, more urgent sound”. Certainly, there are gothic undertones rumbling beneath the surface; Dee Dee points her finger at Suede, Siouxsie, Madonna and Stone Roses and yes, I think they’re all more or less present in this classroom.
The songs are like measuring-sticks, hatched with notches, having risen from the embers of an artistic burn-out. Mid-recording, after fearing that she had train-wrecked her syrupy voice, Dee Dee decided to retreat into a quiet mountain range of books to recover. Infusing and icing the existing sounds with the sentiments of Rilke, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Plath and Rimbaud, who even has a track titled after him.
“Desire as muse; Life as experiment; a miracle for every failure and vice versa” were the gems of wisdom gathered from this time of retreat, as was a flaming penchant for the Surrealist manifesto of desire. This ‘study’, if you will, helps Penny chase her pop ambitions into a darker, subtler place. It doesn’t quite tickle all of the right pop-spots for me (perhaps that’s just because I don’t have enough of them to be tickled) but Too True is a solid, balanced album nonetheless. I’ve got a whole lot of respect, too, for the chrysalis-like artistic process and passionate sensitivity that traces its creation.
Too True is going to be an interesting listen for existing Dum Dum fans, but I think they’re gonna like it. It’s intelligent, sleek, and what’s more – you can even shake a hip to it.
Review by Chloe Mayne.