Dum Dum Girls deliver 'death and darkness and sadness' with grace
A year and a half after bowing with the Sub Pop debut "I Will Be," the L.A.-centered Dum Dum Girls will return this fall with a far moodier turn. "Coming Down," the first single off the Sept. 27 effort "Only in Dreams," down-shifts the band's reverb-laden guitars into more heartbreak territory.
The whole album isn't draped in this sort of gloom, but "Coming Down" is all about giving vocalist-songwriter Dee Dee space to breathe. When it comes to commanding a ballad, she does so with the decorum of a Chrissie Hynde, and maintains composure even as her bandmates scatter. The lyrics provide a snapshot of the artist's mind-set when she began writing "Only in Dreams." During a rhythm-only bridge, Dee Dee sings, "If you ever had a real heart, I don't think you'd know where to start."
"Coming Down" is the first public glimpse at what Dee Dee had earlier told Pop & Hiss would be a "dark" record. The forthcoming work was colored by the tragic October passing of her mother, who had suffered from brain cancer. The diagnosis came as the band had just started working with Sub Pop, which released "I Will Be" last fall.
"It was completely out of nowhere," Dee Dee said earlier. "It was really hard to figure out how to balance the opportunity of having a record out on Sub Pop and wanting to tour, and then feeling really awful for not staying home and just quitting music for the year. Our next record, as much as I really love the songs, is definitely a dark record.
"I knew it would be pretty impossible to not write songs about death and darkness and sadness."
Sub Pop is offering "Coming Down" as a free download. Those who prefer their Dum Dum Girls to pack more aggression needn't worry, as such "Only in Dreams" songs as "Just a Creep" should fit the bill.
-- Todd Martens
Top photo, left to right: Drummer Sandy, guitarist Jules, ringleader Dee Dee and bassist Bambi. Credit: Tyson Wirtzfield.