Under Review: Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams
You can hear a multitude of emotions in the voice of Kristen “Dee Dee” Gundred on the Dum Dum Girls’ new album, Only In Dreams. That’s worth noting since Dee Dee’s delivery on her band’s full-length debut, last year’s I Will Be, was deadpan, detached and distorted. A more dynamic vocal style is not the only change this time around, as the full-band sound of the He Gets Me High EP is carried through the new set. As purveyors of sassy garage pop, Dum Dum Girls haven’t forgotten their roots in tape-based, two-minute rock n’ roll. Only In Dreams, despite its richer production, offers plenty of punchy moments to satisfy fans of the Girls’ early output.
The opening one-two of “Always Looking” and “Bedroom Eyes” features call-and-response vocals, lush harmonies and towering guitars. Unlike many other lo-fi records (including I Will Be), Only In Dreams boasts a sound that’s cloudy rather than muddy. The production work comes from legendary songwriter Richard Gotteher (who also worked on I Will Be) along with Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes (who assisted Gotteher on He Gets Me High). The atmospheric arrangements on Only In Dreams aren’t unlike those on Raven In The Grave, but Dee Dee’s particularly personal songwriting is never obscured.
Dee Dee has proven herself to be exceptionally skilled in conveying her ideas within the confines of a brief pop song. Furthermore, many moments on Only In Dreams stand out within the context of their respectively surrounding songs. A short bridge in “In My Head” shows a keen understanding of how the songwriting staple is best used. The slow-burning closing track, “Hold Your Hand,” is an elegiac number that reflects on the recent death of Dee Dee’s mother, a recurring theme throughout the album. At the album’s center is the stunning, show-stopping “Coming Down,” a six-minute ballad that evokes one of Dee Dee’s acknowledged influences: Mazzy Star. The rapid progression from one-girl noise blitz to fleshed out rock band has been thrilling to watch; a meteoric rise to maturity that befits the Dum Dum Girls’ newfound cinematic style.