Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dum Dum Girls - Only in Dreams (2011)

As much as the guitar fuzz and surf beat point to the band's roots in 60s garage, this album is a strangely luminescent rumination on mortality that digs much deeper than any of its aural antecedents might first suggest. It all seems to emanate from vocalist Dee Dee (aka Kristen Gundred), whose voice has taken on a slight hint of the young Chrissie Hynde and whose lyrics confront heartbreak in a way that's as direct as it is free of cheap sentimentality. On almost every song she transforms pop songs into pop drama, turning her own tragedy into high art. "Heartbeat", for example, initially gets by due to the effectiveness of its melodic hook, until you realize the "take it away" chorus refers to overwhelming sorrow. "Coming Down" builds to a climax in which Dee Dee repeats "here I go" as if she's incapable of stopping the descent.  Behind her the band creates a jangly, fuzzy sonic swirl that mixes the Ronettes, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Mazzy Star, and most of the Nuggets box set into something that at times still seems to be trying to find itself - but there's very little doubt that we're seeing the birth of a true star here.

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