Dum Dum Girls mastermind Dee Dee Penny made a splash with a very specific sound -- reviving '60s girl- group simplicity by combining it with guitar-driven indie rock.
But that all changes on "Too True" (Sub Pop), as Penny's interests move into the '80s. To stand up to the beefed-up production, her songs have gotten deeper and stronger. Her voice, which gave out from overuse at the beginning of the album's
recording sessions, returned bigger and better as well.
On "Lost Boys and Girls Club," she laments, "Avoiding my head, the hole in my heart, I fill them with things which all fall apart," over layers of Smiths-inspired moodiness, which she even nods to with a reference to "hand in glove days." Penny taps into the happier side of The Smiths with the jangling "In the Wake of You," which she gives a bit of Chrissie Hynde sneer so it doesn't get too sweet. Her Hynde-ish vocals are much sweeter on "Are You Okay," which sounds like The Pretenders in the "Packed!" era.
With the help of producers Richard Gottehrer, who led both Blondie and The Go-Go's to success, and Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, the Dum Dum Girls conjure all sorts of '80s-drenched backdrops to suit Penny's songs, especially in
"Rimbaud Eyes," which comes on like The Cult fronted by Siouxsie Sioux.
The bolder musical canvas suits Penny, moving the Dum Dum Girls from more or less a novelty into a definite creative force that cobbles something new out of a wide range of influences.
DUM DUM GIRLS
BOTTOM LINE Broadening their sound, sharpening their hooks.