Dum Dum Girls have never been the most original of bands. Their first two albums took their cues from 60s rock and pop, complete with a lo-fi approximation of Phil Spector’s production. There was nothing particularly innovative on either of their first two albums but there was enough decent songwriting and personality to shine through and make them a group worth listening to. They seemed to be evolving as a band as well. ‘End of Daze’ EP, from 2012, contained some of their strongest tracks yet, especially Lord Knows.
Things were going along nicely for the band but there was a natural desire to keep things fresh so they decided to try something new. The only problem is that the ‘new’ thing the band are trying here isn’t ‘new’ at all. In fact, is so painfully derivative that one wonders why they bothered. There are many 80s pop and rock bands being riffed on here and not in a way that even tries to hide the fact. It wouldn’t be so bad but these bands have been copied so many other times since that this doesn’t even count as a revival.
From the opening track Cult of Love we can immediately hear the influence of The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Whereas Robert Smith and Siouxsie Sioux were incredibly passionate in their vocal delivery, lead singer Dee Dee sounds like she’s humming this song while doing the washing up.
This bored vocal style crops up throughout. We might just about let them away with it too if the lyrics she delivered weren’t so clichéd. Sample line: “Why be good? Be beautiful and sad/ It’s all you’ve ever had.” It certainly rhymes but there’s as much depth to be found in the average Adam Sandler movie.
The music isn’t even that bad generally, especially on the second half of the album. Songs like Little Minx and Too True to Be Good prove that the band still knows how to write a decent melody and, on a surface level, the album is fairly decent. It all comes across as slightly vapid though and there is barely any evidence of emotions experienced beyond “I’m so very sad”.
The fact that the album cover and the lyrics within are coated in faux-goth imagery only adds to the feeling of emptiness. It’s about as convincing as the time Rosie went through a goth phase on Coronation Street.
‘Too True’ is a disappointment. Swiping the best bits of The Jesus and Mary Chain and Blondie is fine, but when you don’t add anything of your own to the mixture it’s hard to see what the point is. Casual listeners might find something to enjoy here but we shouldn’t encourage this lack of imagination. Let’s hope this is a misstep for the Dum Dum Girls because there is clearly some talent lurking in the group. When they figure out how to present that in an original way it might be worth listening to.