Release Date: Mar 30, 2010
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Rock, Pop, Alternative
The initial concept behind Dum Dum Girls' first full-length was to set the record in an Italian women's prison film from the 1960s. Though only single "Jail La La" (the would-be LP's title) deals with actually being imprisoned, it's an oddly appropriate fit for the Dum Dum Girls' aesthetic: leather, cherry red lipstick, a classic girl-group sound that nods to drag races as much as malt shops. Because of an image licensing snafu, the original concept was scrapped, and in its stead is I Will Be, a blistering half-hour of menacing, witty bubblegum pop.
For those dissenters who accused LA’s [b]Dum Dum Girls[/b] of riding on the coat-tails of similarly suffixed gal-pals [b]Vivian Girls[/b], it’s time to eat your words. It may have been a long time coming, but the debut album from this West Coast four-piece proves that despite sharing an obsession with fuzz, the [b]Mary Chain[/b] and [b]Shangri-Las[/b] melodies with their contemporaries, [b]Dum Dum Girls[/b] are very much their own women. With [b]‘I Will Be’[/b], they unfurl a sound far more intricate and subtle than their Brooklyn rivals.
It seems like everyone's hungry for distorted 60s girl group tunes from the dark side, and the Dum Dum Girls pull it off way better than all the other hyped-up Internet sensations. On their debut full-length, the L.A. quartet prove there's still a lot of life yet in the old buzz-saw/bubble-gum formula. [rssbreak] If you're familiar with their handful of 7-inch singles, you should be warned that I Will Be is much less lo-fi and raw than their early work, but this is not a bad thing.
There are plural Dum Dum Girls now, but this album was recorded when the band comprised only singer-guitarist-drummer Dee Dee, aka Kristin Gundred, a woman in thrall to 1960s girl groups, besotted with her husband, and with a sharp ear for a producer. The first accounts for the style: bubblegum pop put through a shredder, the guitars blistered, vocals fuzzy and impassioned, everything underpinned by stark, blunt drums, the 11 songs hurtling by in less than 30 minutes. The husband, LA musician Brandon Welchez, inspires the frantic paranoia of It Only Takes One Night and much soppiness, and pops up on Blank Girl to croon the chorus, celebrating his wife's transformation "from duck to swan".
The incestuous Brooklyn underground scene has thrown up some interesting sights and sounds in recent times, none more so than Crystal Stilts and the Vivian Girls, so it's no real surprise that one quarter of the Dum Dum Girls can count herself as both a present and former member of both. That, however, is where the all-too familiar lineage to the city ends, as head Dum Dum Girl Dee Dee Penny (better known to her parents as Kristin Gundred) actually hails from the sunnier glades of California, whilst spending her time between there and the San Diego base of husband Brandon Welchez, better known as the main face of motorik shoegazers Crocodiles. Nevertheless, taking all the components of her recently assembled four piece - the Dum Dum Girls that put out the self-titled EP of the same name and a handful of subsequent singles across various imprints was essentially just Ms Penny and the occasional hired hand - and the decision to recruit the man responsible for penning such girl band staples as 'My Boyfriend's Back' and 'I Want Candy' to assume production duties on I Will Be, it's clear to see why there's an almost intangible sense of guilt by association here.
The prevalence of puppy love in I Will Be, first full-length from lo-fi surf punkers, Dum Dum Girls, sort of cancels out the more dangerous aspects of the group that inspired their name. The Dum Dum BOYS, (or, The Stooges), defiled the peace and love generation before its number was up, the overall humdrum tonality of 1969 withdrawing the patchouli-reeking daisy from the rifle’s muzzle, saying “fuck it,” and pulling the trigger on all that trendy purple haze.Dum Dum Girls, the music venture of Kristin Gundred, a.k.a. Dee Dee, (or, The Ramone), is girl rock at its most garage, feminine and pubescent, capturing those sweetest of sweet and formative moments with a rapid-paced drum, catchy rock hook and a swooning, batting-lash gaze.
Dum Dum Girls’ striking debut I Will Be might fool you into thinking it’s only a fun, rollicking romp down memory lane, but the album really is the sound of a band making its own history. Sure, it’s hard not to notice how the L.A. quartet hits many of pop’s high points from the ‘60s to the present. While it’s the lollypop girl-group vocals that’ll get you at first, the band’s attitude comes straight out of ‘70s and ‘80s punk, only filtered through a ‘90s grrrl-powered aesthetic.
With propulsive girl-group rhythms roughed up by tangles of guitar feedback and the shoegazed cool of frontwoman Dee Dee’s insouciant vocals, the Dum Dum Girls’ debut, I Will Be, plays like a veritable best-of of current trends in lo-fi rock ‘n' pop. In fact, the disc’s (admittedly exhilarating) fidelity to the budding-but-already-overdone genre nearly weighs it down. The Girls don't add much in the way of innovation to an increasingly crowded and Vivian Girl'd revivalist market.
Dum Dum Girls began with Dee Dee (no last name provided) recording short, noisy tracks in her bedroom. These lo-fi recordings (as heard on a self-released CD-R, a single on Hozac, and a 12” on Captured Tracks) blended girl group melodies with Jesus and Mary Chain noise, Ramones-simple tunes with Dee Dee’s darkly sweet vocals, and came up with a sound deeply indebted to the past but also very much its own. For Dum Dum Girls' first album, I Will Be, Dee Dee recorded the tracks herself but then sent them to famed producer Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, the Go-Go's) to produce.
Lead singer Dee Dee needed a band to bring her songs to life, so she got…and before you know it, it’s strangely amusing just how related the story of Dum Dum Girls is to that of fellow label-mates, Happy Birthday. Not only does each band make the kind of infectious pop/rock that has you confused as to whether it’s too dispensable or ravenously amazing, but each one fronts a lead songwriter that enlisted the help of others to flesh out their own, respective, songs. But unlike Happy Birthday, Dum Dum Girls sound a bit more focused, a bit more ahead of the game and more so, a bit better in almost every possible way.
I Will Be could lift our subjects here higher still into the overground ozone. Noel Gardner 2010 Although Brooklyn-based Dum Dum Girls pass the first band name-based test of integrity – are you really female, or have you just implied so to be ‘wacky’? – it still carries trace elements of fabrication. The first few releases under the name, on bedroom-sized indie imprints (this debut is on the far larger Sub Pop label), was the work of one girl only, a Kristin Gundred, calling herself Dee Dee in what must at least partly be a Ramones tribute.
JUSTIN BIEBER “My World 2.0”. (RBMG/Island).
Sprung from the brain of enigmatic artist Kristen Gundred (aka Dee Dee), L. A. 's Dum Dum Girls began as a solo act releasing the odd EP and 7-inch and bloomed into an all-girl quartet paying homage both to Iggy Pop ("Dum Dum Boy") and the peppy girl-group harmonies your parents grew up listening to.