Dum Dum Girls – [Album]

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Ever wondered what it might hae sounded like if The Bangles and The Stooges collaborated on an album together? Okay, nobody ever really wonders things like that, but that's fine – it's going to be the first scenario that pops into a listener's mind the moment Only In Dreams – the Dum Dum Girls' sophomore full-length album – begins to play. From note one of “Always Looking,” the Girls just exude a sound and manner best defined as being frenetically poppy; it is as chaotic as it is catchy and as sloppy as it is salubrious. Listeners will be able to feel that vibe instinctively and that the success of the delivery is so unlikely makes it even better.

For the entire run-time of Only In Dreams, Dum Dum Girls beef up the sound they won hearts with on their 2010 debut, I Will Be, and simultaneously emphasize both the pop side of their sound as well as the previously understated slippery proto-punk which runs beneath it. This time, singer/guitarist Kristen Gundred and guitarist Jules amp up their guitars a little further (without using distortion pedals) and just burn through parts which could easily have come from The Bangles or any number of the pop bands which sprang forth from New Zealand in the Eighties. That would be captivating enough, but the Dum Dum Girls up the ante just a little further by adding the smallest hair of The Stooges' brand of kamikaze craziness to make sure that every ear which comes into contact with Only In Dreams is glued to every minute of the album to see what happens next; if the whole thing melts down and comes undone, or if the band is able to hold it together for one more spark of genius in each successive track. The album never does topple over though, in fact, it actually gets stronger as it continues.

After “Always Looking,” “Bedroom Eyes,” “Just A Creep” and “In My Head” set the band up as loose but electrifying songwriters (even the old chestnut of 'love' gets re-energized with new excitement in “Bedroom Eyes” before being dismissed wholesale on “Just A Creep”), the gears shift dramatically as soon as “Caught In One” opens the second half of the record's run-time. On that track, the band suddenly buckles down without warning, tightens up their dynamics and reigns in the chaos to offer some truly inspired performances; the songs still have the sparkle of mania, but the band proves it is that vibe's master through the second half of the album and only ever turns it off the leash to tease listeners on occasion (as proven by “Coming Down” and “Wasted Away). On this second half, those moments when the band does succumb to its own urges seem like a reward to listeners for following along while the band hones its form and style for future releases; it's a fascinating listen because it proves that there's more to the Dum Dum Girls than just damning the torpedoes and going for broke at every opportunity.

That the bait has been set so beautifully on Only In Dreams and that the band has proven there's more than one dimension to them is the thing which will have listeners running back when the band decides to re-enter the studio. With the sudden emergence of craft expressed on Only In Dreams, listeners will want to know what else exactly this band is capable of and will line up to find out when another record appears – guaranteed.



Only In Dreams is out now. Buy is here on Amazon .

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