Dum Dum Girls – Only In Dreams (Sub Pop)

The first Dum Dum Girls’ album, last year’s I Will Be, was pretty much a solo effort by Kristen Gundred, or, as she’s now known…Dee Dee. Since then Dee Dee has assembled a band of like-minded female musicians: Jules (guitar/vocals), Bambi (bass/vocals) and Sandy (drums/vocals). While the band has a certain amount of punk energy, they’re not exactly The Runaways.

Only In Dreams was co-produced by The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner and Richard Gottehrer. Gottehrer, who also produced I Will Be, is a veteran pop producer whose credits reach all the way back to 1963 and The Angels’ big hit, My Boyfriend’s Back. He has also worked with Blondie and The Go-Go’s and elements of all of those bands can be heard in the Dum Dum Girls’ music.

Essentially this is female power-pop. The guitars owe a debt to the poppier side of The Ramones, with a few twangy surf licks thrown in for good measure. Dee Dee’s voice falls somewhere between Deborah Harry and The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde.

Songs like Always Looking, Bedroom Eyes and Heartbeat take their melodic cues from the early 60s and their energy from the late 70s.

Fortunately Dee Dee’s vocals carry enough emotional weight to give some of the otherwise lyrically-challenged songs (Coming Down, Caught In One) a bit of substance. Coming Down veers away from the template of short, snappy, memorable tunes…it’s longer (6:29) and much slower. While the change in pace is welcome, the song is ultimately not strong enough to hold up for almost 7 minutes.

Much better are tunes like Just A Creep, Wasted Away and Teardrops On My Pillow.

Dum Dum Girls aren’t breaking any new musical ground here. In fact, they could be said to be stuck in an early-60s/late 70s time warp. But fans of girl-group retro pop should find plenty to admire and their upcoming show at The Kings Arms in January should be just perfect for those summertime blues.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Bedroom Eyes from Only In Dreams