Album Review: Dum Dum Girls – I Will Be
Lo-fi is an odd, hulking, much-mythicised beast of a genre. Hailed by music-slaying behemoth Pitchfork as the new coming in alternative music, there’s still something oddly unappealing about the lo-fi movement. It brings to mind sludgy, wan-faced teenage stoners, their eyes red from pot, who listen to punishing, wailing reams of feedback because it’s the only music that can weasel its way through their deadened skulls. Not exactly an image the average Pitchfork-reading, coffee-sipping, pseudo intellectual wants to associate their good selves with. And sure, there is something trashily intriguing about Vivian Girl’s bubble-gum, Shangri-La’s redolent sweetness and Japandroids rabble-rousing, gravity-defying choruses – but what lo-fi has been missing is a lynchpin, a unification of kinds; an act which grabs lo-fi’s many loose ends and frayings and fuses them together in a glorious celebration of what is good about this deviant invention of the blogosphere.
Enter Dum Dum Girls: a winsome trio of South Californian hipsters; snarling, be-fringed and bounteously clad in eyeliner and fishnets, they’re ready to blow your ironic striped socks off. Already boasting a handful of support slots for San Francisco’s resident purveyors of hedonistic surf-rock Girls, their much salivated over debut ‘I Will Be’, is the perfect embodiment of the lo-fi movement in it’s nascent stages; gauche, gawky and a tad over sweet, it’s a klutzy, awkward treat of a record.
It opens on ‘It Only Takes One Night’, front-woman Dee Dee’s straight-laced coos surfing waves of nasal, choppy guitars. It’s a perfectly orchestrated gem of a pop track – note the tightly-coiled opener’s delectable pause, allowing Dee Dee’s mewls to lengthen, gradually into squalls and – in the track’s climax – spiral, giddily out of control
And indeed, Dum Dum Girls fare best when they’ve let down their hair a bit – the album’s best-known track, the infamous blogosphere smash ‘Jail La La’, is undeniably pretty but painfully mannered, Dee Dee reining her signature Corin Tucker reminiscent wail into a tempered, cagey mewl. Perfectly pleasant, but a dull thud of a come-down after the album’s incendiary opener. The sweetly oscillating melody of ‘Oh Mein M’ far more suits Dum Dum Girls’ rash temperament, the revving, tangled reams of guitars drive the track giddily along, allowing Dee Dee to scuttle, breathlessly behind, while ‘Lines Her Eyes’ is proof that Dum Dum Girls can get pull off sweetness and light too ;however, ‘Lines Her Eyes’ demure, gently-oscillating melody obscures an insidious back-off to a rival trying to steal her man. Dum Dum Girls may be hipster-stamped and P4k-approved, but, refreshingly, ‘I Will Be’ seems blissfully unaware of it’s own coolness – it harks back to a time where metacritic was little more than a twinkle in a web-developer’s eye.
‘I Will Be’s only qualm, however, is that thematically it feels a tad weary. Love, loss, hedonism and rejection may be themes unlikely to alienate any prospective listeners, but when all of Dum Dum Girls’ sonic boost is stripped away in slow-burning closer ‘Baby Don’t Go’s, it’s newly-exposed coos of ‘You’re the only boy I’ve ever had, please don’t go’ seems a little false in light of all the sugar-boosted Elysium that has come before. But it’s a minor nit-pick in an charmingly flawed album that could very well wrangle it’s way into your heart as your sepia-toned, sun-kissed, flighty summer romance.