Album Reviews

Too True – Dum Dum Girls (2014)

Final Rating: 6.4/10

Dum Dum Girls have been releasing music pretty consistently these past few years, and the majority of their material has been pretty outstanding. Their blend of surf rock and dream pop would create a narration of life through the eyes of a badass enigma. Lyrically, Dee Dee would sing songs that mimicked the words of 60s girl groups like the Shangri-Las, as she would claim “My baby’s better than you” and “Oh God how did I get here? I do not know”. By now, it’s not abnormal for a pretty voice to carry attitude, but Dee Dee and her crew seemed to still bring something new to the table when it came to reinventing female edge. I Will Be will remain a terrific album, and Only in Dreams a pleasant follow up album. Their penultimate release thus far, the ep End of Daze, was fairly impacting despite the constant return to their typical formula (well, why not? It works, clearly). With one of the best songs of 2012 (I Got Nothing), Dum Dum Girls seemed like they knew a great path to take with their new album, whenever it may drop.

Well, it’s finally dropped, and it seems dropped alright. Too True is a slight departure in style: One that calls on help from The Cure before The Ronettes. A change in sound is not a bad thing, but it can very well be disappointing if it misses the point of what made a successful project so good in the first place. The thrill, first of all, is almost completely gone. Instead we have an album that is meant to be chilling and eerie but just feels rather manufactured (and nothing is more spine tingling than pure awareness of a craft, right?). The vocal lines, especially during the choruses of songs, seem to be incredibly repetitive and boring, and even on a first listen was I finished with them. The vocal tracks sometimes feature layers that pan from either side of your speakers, which is a corny technique that rarely works and sure doesn’t do wonders here. Don’t be mistaken; There are still some great ideas on this album. The bass lines for the most part are definitely a lifesaver, as they soak through the many layers of instruments and add a groove that gives each song some sort of individual identity. The want to have a rolling surf rock style shine through a clear nostalgic look at the 80’s is a good idea that sometimes works. The two best songs (In The Wake of You and Little Minx) are proof that this idea isn’t all that farfetched. However, it doesn’t always work, and I found myself saying “finally” once In The Wake of You came on: There was that sense of adventure I usually get from Dum Dum Girls. This album is one where the band dwells instead of explores, and who wants to sit on a parked motorbike with its kickstand out?

Like its probably-photoshopped album cover, Too True is a tad befuddling. How could Dee Dee, a shining example of musical drive in our day and age, seem so out of fuel? On I Will Be and Only in Dreams, the drum patterns were so similar that it was hard to ignore, and even then did the songs seem so different and bold. Here, there isn’t much to admire. There is a clear sign of hard work but little pay off aside from the two songs mentioned earlier (which occur near the end of the album, I may add). I don’t suggest that a band should stick to one sound permanently. However, more studying of how styles work isn’t a bad idea. This isn’t the end of Dum Dum Girls, either (even though it’s the first piece of evidence that even these tough girls have weaknesses). With different palettes and nostalgia trips on each album, they can only just try again with the next release. Too True (ironically feeling like their least honest album with its over production) will just be a piece of their discography where you can see their hypothesis and their execution that may not match their efforts. At least we have Little Minx, I suppose: A cheeky song that can only remind me of the ride I usually got from this band.

About author

Former Film Editor & Music Writer at Live in Limbo. Co-host of the Capsule Podcast. A Greek/South African film enthusiast. He has recently earned a BFA honours degree in Cinema Studies at York University. He is also heavily into music, as he can play a number of instruments and was even in a few bands. He writes about both films and music constantly. You should follow him on Twitter @Andreasbabs.