Review Summary: This would have been easier to write if they were just Vivian Girls pt. deux.
So this album will garner a bit of attention, its basically unavoidable. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but the problem is how they’ll acquire it. A name drop that will without a doubt be a purveyor of the utmost in bipolar(fanboy) opinions, regardless of how warranted this attention might be. So, well, Dum Dum Girls not only share a similar name and hazy girl group, surf-pop aesthetic, but also now contain an ex-member of the Vivian Girls with drummer Frankie Rose. Again none of this would matter really if Dum Dum Girls broke out of the whole lo-fi surf-rock *** gaze
thing that’s been plaguing(invigorating) music for the last few years. They don’t, so the comparisons are inevitable, and absurdly justified. Thing is though, I Will Be
still possess a radiant glow despite all the skuzz.
When the Girls released their initial EP a few years back, they were in truth a single woman. Lead singer Dee Dee put together a collection of lo-fi garage rock tracks that reeked of bedroom pop lingering topically in the romantic and forlorn. No matter how little innovation was made, the songs were still extremely well constructed and catchy as all hell. What Dee Dee was doing, she was certainly doing well. Now signed to Sub Pop and a fully fleshed out four piece the Dum Dum Girls are quite a different entity than before, but their sound hasn’t ventured far from the source. The gorgeous 3-piece female melodies, classic punk riffs and woozy surf rock are still drenched in lo-fi fuzz. But what the Girls show with I Will Be
from the start is just how much they don’t rely on the reverb.
Where many of these lo-fi ***gaze surf-rock
records fall short is in their almost erratic need to skuzz the *** out of everything, and don’t misunderstand, this album is fuzz drenched. But Dee Dee and legendary producer Richard Gottehrer (dude was responsible for The Angels timeless "My Boyfriend's Back"
not to mention Blondie's debut) always seem to keep in mind that in the end -- these girls have very good voices. Why not let us hear? Dee Dee herself is a venerable beast, delivering kitsch(“Bhang Bhang, Im a Burnout), clever lines, to psychotic declarations(“Line Her Eyes”) and even forlorn coos(“Baby Don‘t Go“), but in the end what matter is the harmonies. “I Will Be” presents a perfect example of this exact skilled balance that the Girls dance between classic pop and fuzzy punk. The driving surf rock backed by a hazy 3 part harmony is absurdly infectious and showcases the Dum Dums at their best.
To harp on the musicianship and song writing of this album is almost pointless. Its certainly not bad, but in much of the same vein of Dee Dee’s prior EP this is not groundbreaking music in any way. It just so happens to be that in I Will Be’s
almost 30-minute run time these Girls pretty much take that woozy surf rock meets 60s pop and perfect it. Enlisting Gottehrer was a genius move, seeing as the production is really what brings this album out, not to mention their ability to ya know; actually take a few steps into other genres and make more than ten or so tracks of basically fuzzy nu-age grrl Ramones songs (don’t worry they’re still here). What stands out are the gigantic drums, woozy synths and psychedelic hooks of “Rest Of Our Lives.” The uplifting boy-girl exchanges on “Blank Girl” and the delicate crooning of beautiful closer “Baby Don’t Go.” “I Will Be” might be the best song, but it is also very apparent that those 3 not lo-fi
ditties are the following 2-3-4. So now really it all comes down to what else
these girls can do well the next time around. But for now I Will Be
is more than sufficient.