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Dum Dum Girls Bring Reverb-Drenched Teenage Love Songs to the Blank Club

In Music
Dum Dum Girls

You might believe the Dum Dum Girls to be coy, which they are. And you might believe them to be precious, or ditzy, or immature about their craft—which they most certainly are not. On their second album Only in Dreams, the band has grown considerably, bucking accusations of triviality and affectation.

But is a yen for the past an annoying quirk when you were never part of it to begin with? Let’s not bother calling the Girls “retro” then. The first album was naïve, raw and we were grateful because yes, it reminded us of something. A reminder is inanimate, but what you put into it is alive and full of projections—yours, not theirs.

That doesn’t mean that the band is without comparison. Lead singer Dee Dee, whose name is a knowing wink at the candy punk of The Ramones, only sometimes broods betwixt the chasms of reverb and lingering refrains that beg comparison against the Mazzy Star and Jesus & Mary Chain of 20 years ago. Mostly she serenades and quivers without spectacle. It’s a nerve exposed, still thriving, in full bloom.

When the mood turns a shade tragic, which will occur on an album rife with lines about “teardrops on my pillow” or how we “abuse the ones who love you,” you surrender to the classicism of the form—teenage love, and how it grows and withers. There’s a wide range of ways to express this and on the album, they fall somewhere between surf guitar and dream pop. On the songs that sway, they sway charmingly and bright. It’s not exactly bubblegum, but coarse, like all good pop music about love is. Picture a very specific sort of girl drifting with it, her shiny bob obscuring the eyebrows that would betray away an emotion or three. There’s a heart somewhere on those full sleeves.

At one point, you get to hear how far that heart carried the Dum Dum Girls on “Coming Down,” the most aching and lovely song on the album. This is a love that came from humble origins and then went celestial, like an astronaut. But it crashed.

Still there’s no space left for cloudless self-pity with the Dum Dum Girls. The songs are brimming with life, whatever the implications, and wherever they roam, they expand up and onward.

The Dum Dum Girls play at the Blank Club on Monday, May 21st. Tickets are $12 in advance. Doors open at 8 pm.

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