Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)
By Cheri Amour
In her hazy days of, what one can only imagine was, singing into the mirror with comb to lips, LA singer songwriter Kristen Gundred (nom de plume Dee Dee) made a vow to only work with female musicians (no doubt, built up by her wide-eyed admiration for institutional girl bands like that of The Ronettes).
True to her word, the second album from the group Only In Dreams, sees Dee Dee rounding up a fresh and female quartet to perform alongside her which vocally, propels the band into a vintage hue of Bangles-esque harmonies; all four filles participating in these kaleidoscopic and choral melodies. So much so that some of the tracks here wouldn’t be out of place on a Go Go’s Greatest Hits but with a rock swank seen in modern day heroines like that of The Raveonettes, The Ettes (all things ette’, c’est chouette!) It’s not surprising then to hear that this record was produced by Richard Gottehrer (yes, the guy who wrote ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ and ‘I Want Candy’) with help from Sune Rose Wagner of Raveonettes fame.
But there’s more to this 60s-inspired songstress than cute frocks and saccharine vocals. Only In Dreams tackles some deep and emotionally dense personal issues that Gundred has recently been affected by. ‘Hold Your Hand’ was penned immediately following the news that her mother [the chic-looking cameo on the cover of the Dum Dum Girls’ debut album, I Will Be) was diagnosed with what turned out to be a fatal illness, and it’s one of several heartfelt songs that unsparingly trace her sad passing. Other tracks plunge the listener into the emotional toll of separation from one’s lover; again another very evident subject matter to Gundred whose husband (Brandon Welchez of acclaimed noise posters, Crocodiles) is pursuing his own tour schedule alongside Dum Dums Girls’ dates.
However, although the songs here sketch out a raw and vivid picture of such a torrid of emotions, and there’s no denying that Gundred has the vocal cool of an early Chrissie Hynde, the neat production and generally, mid tempo song range sometimes becomes a little sickly sweet. That said, the Dum Dum sound is a tough music wave to revive and if any one is going to make the Go Go’s guitar jangle cool again, it’s these girls; they’ve got Beauty and the Beat.