Fire Note Says: Too True features a throwback 80s sound that is hard to root against.
Album Review: It seems to me like Dee Dee Penny is searching for her own sound. The first Dum Dum Girls album, I Will Be, was a wonderful collection of mid fi pop songs with a distinctive girl group sound. The follow-up, Only in Dreams, was more dreampop with its lush sounding production. Now with third album, Too True, the band has gone full 80’s goth with the sound of the record. The constant thread through all three records has been the catchy songwriting, and Too True features plenty of that to go along with its spacious production and wall of echo. Could Dee Dee Penny be her generation’s answer to PJ Harvey?
Like Harvey, Penny has gone thru some stylistic changes with each record, by this point in her career, Harvey was releasing her modern alt blues epic To Bring You My Love. Too True is certainly not as bold as that record, but it’s still an important statement from an emerging artist. This is a throwback record, this is 1984, this is an artist not caring about what is hip and wanting to make a record that sounds not of her time but of another fertile time, and not caring if it’s anachronistic or not. She is following in the footsteps of her co-producer, Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, another who is not making records that sound cool now, but sounded cool 25 years ago, and might sound cool again in another 25 years. None of this would matter if the songs weren’t so damn catchy, because they most definitely are. Check out “Rimbaud Eyes”, it features a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on a late 80’s edition of 120 Minutes, and it’s supremely catchy. I’m not going to pretend to be smart enough to know what this song is about, the most I know about Rimbaud is that Eddie and the Cruiser’s lost second album was influenced by his Season in Hell. “Cult of Love” is another high point on the record and fittingly opens the album. It sets the tone right off the bat. Its production makes you do a double take. You might find yourself asking “Did I just put on a Jesus and Mary Chain record?” “Too True To Be Good” is all breathy yearning and gets by on sparse instrumentation because of the dynamite vocal that really carries the song.
This isn’t a terribly original album, and I’m not even sure that it’s supposed to be. It’s an accomplished third record from an emerging artist looking to find her own sound for her songs, while trying on multiple styles to see what suits her best. I still like her stripped down the best, ala I Will Be, but Too True has a charm that is undeniable and hard to root against.
Key Tracks: ”Rimbaud Eyes”, “Cult of Love”, “Too True To Be Good”
Artists With Similar Fire: Best Coast / The Raveonettes / Vivian Girls