Los Angeles' own Dum Dum Girls began as a one-person project for singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny in 2008.
Inspired by everything from 1960s garage rock and girl groups to Velvet Underground-influenced indie bands of the 1980s, the Dum Dum Girls released two well-received albums of catchy lo-fi tunes, with hooks often buried under walls of reverbed guitar.
Penny's production team of Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go's) and Raveonettes leader Sune Rose Wagner takes the helm again for “Too True,” an ambitious, focused step forward into a clearer, more polished sound.
The influence of 1980s post-punk outfits such as Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Cure holds greater sway on the band this time around. Swirling tracks such as “Cult of Love” and “Lost Boys and Girls Club” sport droning guitar, echoed vocals and an overall cavernous sound that almost obscures Penny's knack for catchy melodies.
These dark, entrancing mood pieces are balanced out by brighter, more infectious songs such as “Little Minx,” which recalls mid-period Blondie. “Under These Hands” is also a perfectly realized slice of midtempo pop-rock with an insistent chorus, while the full-production girl-group update “Are You Okay?” is the album's most delightful track.
At 10 tracks and just over 30 minutes, “Too True” is too short. Still, the Dum Dum Girls manage to cover lots of ground here, comfortably adding a wider range of sonic styles enhanced by fuller, more sympathetic production.
Playing spot-the-influences is part of the fun, but don't let that stand in the way of enjoying the continuing evolution of this intriguing band.
Dum Dum Girls
Rating: 3 stars
Album: “Too True”
Label: Sub Pop
Watch “Lost Boys and Girls Club” video from “Too True.”