Published May 27, 2016Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls might have gone synth-pop with her new project, Kristin Kontrol, but besides the name change (Kristin Kontrol is the first half of her email address; her real name is Kristin Welchez, neé Gundred) and, of course, the synths (which could be seen as the opposite of the retro '60s garage pop she has spent the past eight years refining), Kristin Kontrol isn't the dramatic switcheroo some might assume it is.
Welchez's latest album and first under the new name, X-Communicate, isn't a far cry from the melodies she wrote for Dum Dum Girls. She's still one cool cat, just trading one decade's sounds for another. It's not hard to hear why she felt these songs weren't meant for DDG, though; the production by Kurt Feldman (Ice Choir) and regular collaborator Andrew Miller is geared to help emphasize Welchez's voice like never before.
As the calm and cool Dee Dee, it always felt like there was a cap on the emotions Welchez could express though the music, but that limit seems lifted on X-Communicate. She reaches her full pop star potential on the title track, recalling Kylie Minogue as she emotes strongly in the chorus over arpeggiating synths. "Skin Shed," which packs big beats and loud guitars, is more in line with the early '90s indie house of Saint Etienne. And on both "Face 2 Face" and "Smoke Rings," she channels her inner Siouxsie Sioux, as the production slinks along to her hypnotic voice.
X-Communicate is all about Welchez allowing herself room to grow as a multifarious artist who has the drive, determination and talent to pull off anything she sets her mind to. Whether she'll ever return to Dum Dum Girls remains to be seen, but as Kristin Kontrol, she's offering an exciting artistic refresh that Dum Dum fans should get on board with. (Sub Pop)