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Dum Dum Girls - End of Daze

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Artist: Dum Dum Girls

Album: End of Daze

Label: Sub Pop

Review date: Sep. 20, 2012

After two albums and a handful of EPs, the Dum Dum Girls’ trajectory seems to be established. The 2010 debut I Will Be, recorded more or less as a solo effort by bandleader Dee Dee, was a surprisingly confident melding of rough garage rock and ’60s bubblegum pop. Produced by Richard Gottehrer, who brought to bear his past experience with Blondie and The Go-Go’s, the album balanced things just right, with polished harmonies that benefited from production that didn’t try too hard. Last year’s Only in Dreams increased the sonic clarity, which pushed the songs perceptibly into more mainstream territory. In particular, the vocals were immediately more confident (and unexpectedly similar to The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde). The effect was to accentuate the catchiness, often by focusing on the vocal choruses where the group’s harmonies shine, but in the process, the sharp edges on I Will Be were pretty much sanded down.

Continuing the evolution, End of Daze is an interstitial five-song EP, much like last year’s He Gets Me High, and includes one cover, Strawberry Switchblade’s "Trees and Flowers,” a very pretty, dreamy song. Opener "Mine Tonight" starts things off on the darker, murkier side of things, showing a bit of Velvets influence (though Spiritualized also comes to mind) that brightens into frenzied strumming partway in. Even after it opens up, the band maintains an elegiac pop narcosis, which imbues the whole EP to some extent. "I Got Nothing" and "Lord Knows” lag during the verses but blossom during the choruses. Both songs feel as though the verses were the compulsory work that didn’t get as much attention, and there’s a sense of incompleteness.

The cover of "Trees and Flowers" is beautiful, a slow droning centerpiece with some of Dee Dee’s clearest, strongest vocals, but at four minutes it does risk dragging by the end. Closing tune "Season in Hell" is pretty upbeat for a song that name checks Rimbaud, but it still stays fairly shadowy. It’s reminiscent of late-model Siouxsie and the Banshees — not a bad thing.

During these 18 minutes, you can sense a tension between the darker atmosphere and the pop inclinations. That’s a combination that’s yielded its share of greatness, but the two don’t fully merge here.

By Mason Jones

Other Reviews of Dum Dum Girls

I Will Be

Only In Dreams

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