Dum Dum Girls
Too True


3.5
great

Review

by Rudy K. STAFF
January 29th, 2014 | 27 replies


Release Date: 01/28/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: True romance.

And then there was one. Days after fellow fuzz-pop compatriots Vivian Girls announced their dissolution, an unlikely torchbearer of the late ‘00s lo-fi scene keeps marching on. Too True is implausible for a number of reasons – after 2011’s Only in Dreams, a tortuous ride alongside Dee Dee Penny’s (aka Kristin Welchez) grief and turbulence over losing her mother coupled with an aesthetic that was quickly becoming warmed over, it was hard to see where Dum Dum Girls would go from there. The blogosphere that had long moved on to Sleigh Bells and Best Coast (and spit them out) registered Vivian Girls’ departure with a quick nod and a hurried escorting to the back. If Too True intends to get that scene talking again, it’s hard to call it a success. Instead, it’s a solid circling of the wagons, a focus not on fluid emotions and a garage aesthetic but on Dee Dee’s still sharp songwriting chops and an atmosphere pinched from post-punk ‘80s groups like the Jesus and Mary Chain and Echo & the Bunnymen. The goal posts aren’t moved forward, but Dee Dee’s songwriting is allowed to breathe under shimmering synths and a hazy reverb that coats everything here with a soft, delicate sheen that even Dee Dee’s frequently acrid guitars can’t break through. Even more surprising is how Dee Dee harnesses that sound and takes Too True from a pretty pastiche to a successful transition.

It’s not so much that Dum Dum Girls had to reinvent the wheel – by fine-tuning Dee Dee’s ‘60s-inflected pop melodicism with a production job that is easily the lushest to ever grace a Dum Dum Girls record, Too True should satisfy longtime fans while hitting that generational sweet spot of repackaging old sounds into something new. Dee Dee has never been the strongest vocalist; while her image and Too True’s gothic romanticism calls to mind Siouxsie Sioux, Dee Dee is more subdued, a crystalline presence wafting between melancholy notes and incandescent choruses. It’s no surprise that Sune Rose Wagner of the Raveonettes is her primary helping hand here – Too True’s nearest reference point is the Raveonettes’ eyeliner-splashed 2011 record Raven in the Grave, both in its noir-ish appeal and Dee Dee’s similarities to Sharin Foo.

Yet where Raven in the Grave failed to break through the murk and its own pretensions, Too True navigates through Wagner’s luxurious textures via a bright pop beacon that is impossible to ignore. 2012’s superb End of Daze EP was an appetizer for Dum Dum Girls’ eventual shape, and husband Brandon Welchez’s increasingly poppy work with Crocodiles is another obvious signpost, but where Too True shines is when it bypasses existential angst and goes straight for the nerves. It helps that these nerves are seemingly more receptive, her marriage with Welchez having settled into an accepted part of Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls as a whole. When she sings “I belong to the cult of love,” you can tell this isn’t another affectation, not a celluloid creation but something genuine and heartfelt. The rest of Too True follows accordingly. Her dreamy, ghostly voice has never sounded better than when she is skittering on top of a bouncy single like “Rimbaud Eyes,” or twisting melancholia into a celebration on “Too True To Be Good.” There’s undeniable sadness here – it’s an inescapable part of the band’s sound and lays over everything like a barely disturbed layer of dust – but Dee Dee has a dark, sexy voice that continues to be open to interpretation. The record’s pacing helps with this, alternating John Hughes-via-Tim Burton ballads (“Lost Boys and Girls Club,” “Under These Hands”) with infectious mid-tempo numbers as stylized as they are electric (“Little Minx,” Cult of Love”). The end result is a dynamic record that gets in its punches and cleans up quickly – at 31 minutes, it’s a pleasant little burst of black energy.

The length here is important. A longer record undoubtedly would have dragged the proceedings down into a reverb soup, a problem Wagner deftly avoids via sequencing and subtle production tricks. It’s difficult to tell if Dum Dum Girls can continue along this path, as Too True is both a welcome change of scenery for Dee Dee and still close enough to her roots to imagine a follow-up record with a new package but nothing substantial within. That would be a shame. Although Too True is not Dum Dum Girls’ finest hour – that would still be the cathartic Only in Dreams – it remains a commendable shift from an artist on the verge of being swallowed up by memory.




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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
Nathan Taft (2.5)
"Too true, too true, too true, to be good."...


Comments:Add a Comment 
klap
Staff Reviewer
January 28th 2014


10494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hey soundcloud

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

Taxt
January 28th 2014


658 Comments


This band is OK.
This album is OK.
This review is great.
And that is that.

tommygun
January 29th 2014


24988 Comments


mite jam

sweet rev

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2014


3469 Comments


sweet rev but real talk can't think of "dee dee" without Dexter's Lab

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 29th 2014


7357 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Not a Dum Dum Girls fan but I quite like this. Good review!

omnipanzer
January 29th 2014


21621 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Album is such an odd duck... Very 80's to my ears.

Digging: We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2014


10494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

very '80s. hahaha will that is accurate

Athom
Staff Reviewer
January 29th 2014


17222 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I agree with everything in this review.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
January 29th 2014


13339 Comments


Athom ! allright buddy sweet name buddy =D

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

SeaAnemone
January 29th 2014


20520 Comments


geez staff give it a rest we get it you still write things sometimes


also good new name AThom


also End Of Daze was sweet but I don't know if I'll get into this

Digging: Pharmakon - Bestial Burden

jefflebowski
January 29th 2014


8253 Comments


album is pretty good

dee dee is incredibly hot

Hep Kat
January 29th 2014


15351 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this disappointed me

Thales
January 29th 2014


102 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've had this on repeat since I've got it. In The Wake of You is a great song. Rimbaud Eyes, not so much.

jefflebowski
January 30th 2014


8253 Comments


seems like people are expecting this to be more than just a very good pop album, when all it is is a very good pop album

DoubtGin
January 30th 2014


6752 Comments


I miss the fuzz

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
January 30th 2014


6154 Comments


"allowed to breath under shimmering synths and a hazy reverb that coasts everything here with a soft"

two errors in one sentence cmon breh who even let you be staff

someguest
January 31st 2014


20865 Comments


band is dum

Digging: Dexter Gordon - Our Man in Paris

klap
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2014


10494 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

have you even breathed on a coast gnarly

TWIGtheWONDERKID
January 31st 2014


839 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Went from channeling Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders on the last album, to channeling Siouxsie and the Banshees on
this one--definitely an 80s sound--Meanwhile, I can’t get “You’ve got Bimbo Eyes” out of my head.

Enjoyed the review.

Digging: Johnny Marr - Playland

JViney
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2014


322 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Rimbaud's Eyes is great. Good album overall.



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