There’s a good chance that if Dum Dum Girls had continued on as lo-fi garage dwellers, we might not be talking about them right now. The fact that frontwoman Dee Dee has continued to futurize her ’60s girl-group proclivities has kept things from molding over. And when I say “futurize,” I mean to the year 1981.
While Dum Dum Girls began polishing up the fuzz and drawing from other influences on 2011’s He Gets Me High EP, it’s nothing compared to the shimmer and sophistication of the band’s third full-length, Too True. It’s a spotless record production-wise, but it also takes Dee Dee’s songwriting another step forward. This is best represented on “Lost Boys and Girls Club,” which moves slowly and majestically through a wash of synth and processed guitars. It’s a mesmerizing three minutes.
Dee Dee again teamed up with The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and Richard Gottehrer, the Brill Building vet who penned “My Boyfriend’s Back” and is best known for his work with Blondie, the Go-Go’s and Richard Hell & the Voidoids. Their glistening fingerprints are all over Too True. Of course, no matter how much reverb or how many layers of guitar threaten to swallow it up, Dee Dee’s voice is what stands out. It’s achingly emotive in its minimal range (not a slag, it’s perfect where it is), especially on songs like “Too True to Be Good” and “Rimbaud Eyes.”
In the press materials, Dee Dee says influence for the album came from Suede, Siouxsie Sioux, Patti Smith, Madonna, The Cure, Velvet and Paisley Undergrounds and Stone Roses. There’s no denying any of that. And while the strides Dee Dee has made as a songwriter can’t be denied, at the end of the day Too True still sounds too much like something that would have been big during MTV’s heyday.
Dee Dee writes some great pop nuggets. And it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here. But for now, the best way to sum it up would be “one small step for music, one giant leap for Dum Dum Girls.”