Published Jan 20, 2014Over the course of two prior albums and a handful of EPs, fuzz-pop outfit Dum Dum Girls have changed from a rough-around-the-edges DIY act to one that embraces more sweeping, hi-fi sounds. The latest step in this evolution is the group's third album, Too True, which arrives January 28 via Sub Pop but can now be streamed here on Exclaim.ca.
This record marks a departure from 2011's emotionally fraught Only in Dreams, which addressed the recent passing of project mastermind Dee Dee's mother. When writing Too True, the singer found herself comparatively unencumbered.
"I was trying to be free of writing about very personal things," Dee Dee tells Exclaim! over the phone from her home in New York. "I was again able to look outside myself a bit more. I still obviously write about what I know. I don't usually write complete fictitious songs or anything, but I was able to look to music I was listening to or things I was reading or experiences I had."
Not only was Dee Dee writing about a broader range of topics, she switched up some of her guitar techniques, utilizing a punk-inspired strumming style rather than her usual shuffle stroke.
"I'm playing as fast as I can like that, but it actually sort of makes the tempo of the song slower," she explains. "So there's a lot more mid-tempo songs on this record because of how I decided to play rhythm guitar."
Sure enough, some of the record's standout cuts use fairly laid-back tempos; "Too True to Be Good" and "Are You Okay" mix jangling guitars with serenely soaring hooks, while "Lost Boys and Girls Club" is cinematic in its slow-paced heaviness.
That being said, there are still lots of the brisk, fuzzy pop scorchers that fans are used to hearing from Dum Dum Girls, with "In the Wake of You" standing out as one of the catchiest songs Dee Dee has released yet. She remembers, "I was totally drunk when I wrote it, woke up the next day with a terrible hangover, noticed my computer was open and my guitar was out, and I had apparently written and recorded this little song."
She recorded the album with her usual producers: Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, the Go-Go's) and Sune Rose Wagner (of the Raveonettes). They initially recorded the instrumental bed tracks, but when it came time for Dee Dee to add singing, her voice was so worn out from touring that the album temporarily remained unfinished.
While she admits that these struggles were "really depressing," the delay meant that she had more time to fine-tune her lyrics and melodies. "It was the first time where I was forced to sit on something. I tried to take advantage of that and really re-evaluate things," she reflects. "In essence, the extra time was exactly what needed to happen."
Eventually, Dee Dee finished up the singing, and the results stand out as a career highpoint for Dum Dum Girls. Stream the album right here, and see the group's tour schedule here.