Dum Dum Girls - Too True
- Malcolm Jack
- 10 January 2014
Kristin 'Dee Dee' Gundred delivers a third album of better-than-average dreamy American indie-pop
‘Here is my best attempt at joining the rock’n’roll ranks,’ writes Kristin ‘Dee Dee’ Gundred – for Los Angeles’ Dum Dum Girls are fundamentally she – in an accompanying spiel to her third album. Too True also lists Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Sylvia Plath among her notional ‘artistic collaborators’, and Patti Smith and Lou Reed as her ‘spiritual parents’
You could never accuse the girl of not taking herself seriously. But such pretentious proclamations – ‘it is never pretentious to feel and create’ she writes elsewhere – rather frame this album’s weakness for try-hard self-conscious posturing amid what is essentially better-than-average dreamy American indie-pop.
Typically for such an undoubtedly gifted, Shangri-Las channelling sonic temptress as Gundred, ‘Are You Okay’ and ‘Too True to be Good’ possess melodies that stay with you like a lover’s perfume, albeit one that reveals nothing especially sophisticated in the fragrance notes. Musically, it’s lots of little we haven’t heard before, both generally speaking (whole songs feel interchangeable with ex-Dum Dum Girl Frankie Rose’s solo output) and sometimes very specifically (you may find yourself willing ‘Little Minx’ to break out into the riff from Black Sabbath’s ‘Paranoid’).
The production from regular Dum Dum Girls co-conspirators Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes and Richard Gottehrer – the veteran Brill Building songwriter behind ‘I Want Candy’, and producer of Blondie’s 1976 debut – is crisp and atmospheric, but then so it a lot of dreamy American indie-pop production. ‘Trouble is My Name’, good as it may be, literally checks-in to a cliché by appearing to represent one of two woe-washed songs on the album which Gundred reveals were written in a haze of ‘drunken loneliness’ at LA’s notorious Chateau Marmont (site of narcotic misadventures by all from Jim Morrison to John Belushi).
You have to wonder why Gundred got so tearfully obsessed with writing herself into rock’n’roll legend, when a record that simply builds on her last – and Too True shades it on 2011’s solidly enjoyable Only in Dreams – is no modest goal to be ashamed of.