Dum Dum Girls - Too True

A haunting and dazed experience that delves into the paradoxes of life as well as the genre of pop.

Additional Info

7.7

ALBUM: Too True

ARTIST: Dum Dum Girls

2014

Alternative

The Dum Dum Girls have been around sometime now with their dreamlike, goth, pop sound that makes one want do the Charlie Brown dance while crying at the same time. Their sound is filled with an eerie mystery that is honed in on with Dee Dee Penny’s vocals, but the melodies and rhythms of their tracks are pure pop drenched in a miserable glaze. The all girl band that was established by Dee Dee Penny is back with their third album, Too True. The overall sound of the album sounds as if plucked from a cult feature film of the eighties as if it were a soundtrack. The album explores sinister tones and depressing lyrics that hide behind low thumping bass melodies and the airy vocals of Penny. The album as a whole explores vibes of The Cranberries and The Smiths with a Lo-Fi sound that might sound dated at first, but after a few listens the true beauty and simplicity of the album starts to seep through the cracks of its fuzzy sound.

Too True opens up with an eerie introduction that is an almost paradoxical representation of love or being in a relationship. "Cult of Love" puts a creepy and new perspective of simply being in a relationship. Instead of just making a simple pop song about falling in love with someone, Penny crafts an original outlook on the sensual emotion in the darkest way possible. The track might sound dated or simple, but it sets the extending mood for the rest of the album. It is not the best song of the album by far, yet it serves a nice ease into the mood that the Dum Dum Girls try to harness.

Too True continues with the track "Evil Blooms" that is one of the weakest tracks of the album. It has a terrible transition from the opening track and carries no necessary value. However this track is where Penny’s fatal flaw of her album develops. The eighties rock pop inspired sound has a repetitive chorus that seems to carry the track into a perpetual consciousness of boredom. The song has a gloomy bass that lingers over the beachy undertones of the electric guitar and the basic drumbeats. It continues with a simple verse into a simple chorus that tends to take the song nowhere specific or to its maximum potential. This pattern continues with "Rimbaud Eyes", "Are You Okay", "In the Wake of You", and "Under These Hands"; this accounts for half of the album! It is not that these songs are poorly written or unbearable to listen to, they just all sound too similar. Yes, these tracks all have different content and slightly different rhythms, however the pattern is the same and the instruments are the same. There is no development on Too True. There is no diversity. No Passion. No intrigue that carries on.

Despite this redundancy within the album, there are still a few gems that just a take a bit of excavation to appreciate. "Too Good to Be True", "Trouble Is My Name", and "Lost Girls and Boys Club" are the keystones of this album and do not follow the monotonous sound as the others do. Too Good To Be True is a promising track with its seductive nature and haunting lyrics that send shivers. "Lost Girls and Boys Club" is a melancholic anthem that hypnotizes. "Trouble Is My Name" is the best track of the album, but unfortunately is the last. Well, they do say save the best for last and the Dum Dum Girls did just that. This track holds no heavy connection to eighties pop rock and highlights the lovely vocals of Penny. The song may be the simplest one of the album, but proves that less is more.

The concept of pop turning over to the dark side is a notion worth exploring. The paradoxes of good versus evil and love versus death all behind the paradox of goth pop itself is refreshing and original. Dum Dum Girls have perfected the look with their all black, stone-faced, careless attitude and have done it to an attractive standard. They have the idea and the vision for themselves, but for their music it is a bit unclear. Too True may be uneven at times or tantamount but is not a complete failure. It proves that Dum Dum Girls has a signature sound; it is just that they have to expand beyond what they are already accustomed to in order to break the barriers of brilliance.

“I’m reckless at night, I’m sorry for day, I’m looking for you through lavender haze.”

1. Cult of Love
The album starts off with a buoyant drumbeat that has a dark undertone due to the hum of the low bass and eerie synths. The song seems to capture a sort of foggy sound that is complimented by Dee Dee Penny’s vocals. Her backup melodies would possibly be considered beautiful if not for the goth pop sound. There is a western flare in the main guitar bits that contrast nicely with the overall tone of the track. The lyrical content is a bit simple with verses such as, “You know all my secrets/you know all my lives/ I know all your anger/ I know all your alibis,” and the talk of belonging, with her lover, to the “cult of love.” The idea is a bit trite but works well with the haunted vibe of the track. She is trapped by love, making it sound like some secret society that makes human sacrifices. The tone of the track is intriguing and overall it is an okay track. 8.0
2. Evil Blooms
Instantly this track begins with another vibrant pop rhythm, but it is not at all a good transition from the opening track placing the continuation of the album at an awkward position. The bass is lively and almost old school punk sounding. The vivacious electric guitar is chaotic but is kept on pace with the bouncy tambourine. “Evil blooms just like a flower,” is another perfect goth pop symbol that creates a paradox of the light hearted and dark spirited nature of things by comparing evil to the beauty of a flower. “Why be good? Be beautiful and sad,” sings Penny with the pessimistic dictum, but yet another paradoxical comparison of good and bad. The track feels rushed until this bridge and then the track seems to come together a bit more coherently only to fade out moments later. The track is extremely simple, only exemplifying the sound from the opening song. 6.5
3. Rimbaud Eyes
The low rumbling bass and eighties inspired rock drumbeats create a cool and sinister atmosphere. Penny has done her research on 19th century literature as she refers to the breathtaking eyes of French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. The song carries a Smiths’ vibe with the ghostly wails of the guitar hidden in the background of the track and Penny’s vocals add a subtle aggression to the track that is haunting. Her voice lingers as she sings of getting lost in her muse’s eyes. The track reaches its peak when the track goes accapella and all the listener is left with is Penny’s voice that is drowning in longing. But the song fails when it reverts back to the chorus after this delicate bridge. The track tends to feel a bit repetitive and overworked with the underdeveloped lyric content that focuses on the French writer’s lenses. 8.5
4. Are You Okay?
The track starts off with an easygoing sound of acoustic guitar coupled with a keyboard melody. The background seems to overpower the vocals of this track and the chorus seems to be repetitive just as the previous track. It’s another adequate ballad that does not show off the true talents lyrically or vocally of the Dum Dum Girls. However the last verse is beautiful and poetic with the lyrics, “What if it doesn’t go away? / What if this feeling always plays? / I’m reckless at night, I’m sorry for days/ I’m looking for you through lavender haze.” Although the notion of “lavender haze” is unclear, it’s an endearing image that leaves the song on a good note. 7.0
5. Too True to Be Good
This is a beautiful track. It really highlights Penny’s vocals with her low registers and seductive coos. It’s well written as a perfect pop rock track with the bouncy bass and beachy guitar that invites a foot tap or a head bob with open arms. It’s catchy. It’s not tedious. This track seems have a purpose and is fully aware of it. The contrast of the pop melody and morose lyrics create a melancholic tone but the dissonance of the song is not bothersome or distracting, it’s pleasantly satisfactory. “The clouds were opening above my head/ stood on the edge feeling so dead/ oh suck me up, won’t you take me away? / I wanna feel something today,” Penny sings with uplifting sorrow such relatable words, whether she is singing of the passing of a loved one or just life in general, her pain and emotion are completely accessible and poetic. One of the best tracks of the album. 9.0
6. In the Wake of You
This bouncy track seems to be the first one on the album that will make you want to dance or grab a hairbrush and sing in front of the mirror. It is a pop track outlined with a grunge flare that is harnessed in the fuzzy electric guitar and dreamlike synths. The lyrics are average but hold no true substance like other tracks on the album. Overall, the track is a catchy pop tune with a nice progression. 7.0
7. Lost Boys and Girls Club
A distorted piano kicks in with a charming fuzzy guitar and airy “uh uhs” that ease the track into its hypnotic state. It’s a pulsating song that lingers on. It reads like an anthem, “there’s no particular place we are going/ still we are going.” It contains that industrial sound that seems to reoccur throughout the album, but what is successful about this song is that it feels original and fresh compared to others. It is a bad ass song that sings of the outcast anthem that everyone wishes they could be a part of. 8.0
8. Little Minx
The industrial sounding background and quick spoken lyrics sound robotic with the old school distorted guitar. The hard sounding melodies against the fragile voice of Penny is interesting and develops well towards the end of the song as the song gets more intense as she sings, “What a vivid sound.” And indeed it is. But good thing this track is only two and a half minutes, because any longer it would feel unnecessary. 7.0
9. Under These Hands
After a while one can start to see that Dum Dum Girls have a signature pattern of goth pop with a slight eighties sound and repetitive chorus. The track is soothing with no severe errors and mistakes rather but just tend to be monotonous and boring. The track seems to lack purpose and shine. It seems dead. 6.5
10. Trouble Is My Name
The band explores sound the most on this track with different noises and melody layouts. It still holds the melancholic tone with lyrics that haunt and make shivers crawl up the spine. This starts off simple with words such as, “I had a vision/ I begged and I plead/ I had a vision/ I wanted to be dead/ and you said there is nothing you can do/ to make all your bad turn good,” that leaves an unsettling feeling but a curious tension is building that grabs one’s attention. Beautiful echoes of backup vocals build up with a climactic drumbeat to the chorus that fulfills is ominous nature. Then the song breaks in a funky jam beat and finally returning to the delicate guitar strums and haunting vocals of Penny. The only small problem with the track is the awkward fade out, but this is a minor detail. This track is a gorgeous ballad that serves a satisfactory conclusion to the troubling world of the Dum Dum Girls. 9.5
Written by Margaret Farrell
Margaret Farrell is a writer from outside Chicago. She is currently a student at New York University, studying journalism and creative writing.



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