Is there a better cocktail than girls and guitars? Rock-and-roll, with its determined, aggressive sound and heart-throb rock stars, has always reveled in its particularly masculine aura. But women have left their mark on the genre; bands like Blondie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Le Tigre immediately come to mind. And within the past five years, one of the best all-female rock and roll groups has been on the rise: Dum Dum Girls.
Two albums and two EPs into their careers, Dum Dum Girls are admittedly at risk of losing themselves in the fringes of the Pitchfork-dominated indie scene. But Dee Dee Penny, Dum Dum Girls’ front woman, is far too savvy to let the success of her bedroom project wither into obscurity; cue Too True, Dum Dum Girls’ newest studio album. It’s a great reflection on the band’s previous sound that brings in new style and nuance, keeping Dum Dum Girls (DDG) well at the forefront of indie rock.
That said, such a departure from their earlier work will alienate more than a few. DDG’s sophomore album from 2011, Only in Dreams, brought together Best Coast-y surf rock with hints of punk to create an effortlessly cool piece of music. Too True feels much more calculated. “Evil Blooms” is an incredibly sleek piece of songwriting, cool and ruthless to its core. Too True’s best track, “Lost Boys and Girls Club,” is likely one of Dum Dum Girls’ best ever: it’s the perfect mix of shoegaze and lyrical badassery, of Dee Dee’s vocal prowess and DDG’s sonic walls of screeching guitars.
But something authentic seems missing on Too True. Where Penny once bellowed her lungs out, she now seems to passively let the songs on Too True pass her by. Penny knew that she needed to reconfigure the group’s sound to stay relevant—not necessarily a crime, but some of the real spirit she used to put in her music is undoubtedly missing. Too True’s calculation comes at a price: the deep-rooted passion needed to make a great rock-and-roll record.