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Unlike the previous Dum Dum Girls album, Only in Dreams, which was a harrowing account of her sadness in the wake of her mother's passing, the pain chief Girl Dee Dee felt while making 2014's Too True was mostly artistic, with a little bit of physical pain thrown in for bad measure. After writing and recording songs, then tossing them out, then losing her voice, then writing new songs, Dee Dee went through a lot for her art. Happily, the resulting album is the best overall Dum Dum Girls album to date. Working again with producers Richard Gottehrer and Sune Rose Wagner (who also contributes guitar, synth, bass, and drum programming), Dee Dee picks up where the Echo & the Bunnymen-inspired tracks on 2012's End of Daze EP left off, and much like her former bandmate Frankie Rose, she looks to the gloomy, swimming-in-echo-and-reverb post-punk sound to color in her songs now, instead of relying on lo-fi guitar buzz and scrappy-sounding drums. Indeed, Too True is resolutely hi-fi, with perfectly layered guitars, soft banks of synths, and Dee Dee's expressive voice all fitting together in a glossy, easy-to-swallow mix. Unlike previous efforts, it feels like the music was crafted to allow her voice to be the focal point, and Dee Dee makes the most of the opportunity. Her richly dark vocals have grown more impressive with each release, and here they transmit all the pain and sadness of her oft-tortured lyrics with a tender grace that's quite moving. And while the album isn't as bleak as Only in Dreams, there is still enough pain and melancholy in the words and melodies to make even the most Pollyanna-ish listeners reconsider their beliefs. And even if it does get a little too overcast, at least most of the songs have enough punchy energy to keep hearts beating quickly as they break. Split between uptempo rockers like "Little Minx" and "Evil Blooms," powerful and hooky midtempo tracks like "Rimbaud Eyes," and streaked-eyeliner ballads like "Under These Hands," the record has a dynamic flow and balance of sounds and moods that previous albums haven't been able to accomplish. It even finds space for a song that sounds like Garbage, if they were produced by Gottehrer and Wagner ("Lost Boys and Girls Club"). While it is the weakest moment on the album -- because it's the most obvious moment -- it does point out that Dee Dee and her crew are determined to test the self-set boundaries of their sound, and even if it won't always work the attempt will always be interesting. If they keep making records this emotionally powerful, hook-filled, and easy to listen to as this, their future is very, very dark and promising.
Performance CreditsDum Dum Girls Primary Artist
Sune Rose Wagner Bass
Dee Dee Bass,Guitar,Vocals
Technical CreditsRichard Gottehrer Producer
Jeff Kleinsmith Art Direction
Sune Rose Wagner Producer,drum programming
Alonzo Vargas Engineer
Dee Dee Composer
Nathaniel Brown Cover Image
James Orlando Cover Photo
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