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Album Review
I Will Be

I Will Be
by Dum Dum Girls

Sub Pop

Review Date
Reviewed by
Paul Gallagher

Dum Dum Girls have enjoyed a spectacular rise to indie stardom in just barely two years, largely due to their riding the wave of DIY-ethic aroused lo-fi pop sensibilities in the LA and San Francisco areas and the respectful way that their music evokes notions of musical history from decades prior to their own emergence.

Leader Kristin Gundred aka Dee Dee started out Dum Dum Girls as a 4-track aficionado that soon realised that she’d have to embrace strength in numbers to reach the stark achievements that I Will Be reveals – finding the one time solo project now a four-strong all-women troupe which includes at times the one time Vivian Girl and Crystal Stilt Frankie Rose.

Steeped in the aesthetics golden times of fore-pop supergroups such as the Supremes, Dum Dum Girls act to bridge successive periods of music – from 1960s pop to riot grrl to the current waves of lo-fi musicianship being brandished across the United States, it’s difficult for I Will Be to not bring to mind nostalgia for all who listen. And while visions of Marianne Faithful and Siouxsie Sioux and even Patti Smith are induced, I Will Be is a credible performance of musicianship that can also stand alone without the reliance on historiography as a document of a surging pop West Coast pop movement that is fast growing both in strength and in notoriety.

With a long association with lo-fi labels such as Captured Tracks and Hozac Records, Dum Dum Girls were picked up last year on Sub Pop – an obvious sign the seminal northwest label recognized the all girl group’s potential artistic and commercial success. As artistic figurehead Dee Dee cuts an impressive figure amongst her peers, acting as one half of the Mayfair Set along with Mike Sniper (Blank Dogs, DC Snipers) and enlisting the assistance of her husband Brandon Welchez (the Crocodiles) on the track Blank Girl.

'Bhang Bhang, I'm A Burnout' brims with classic pop sensibilities similar to those seen within the Mayfair Set, and wouldn't be inappropriate as a soundtrack to Antonioni's Blowup or similar cinematic icons of the 1960s. Album opener 'It Only Takes One Night' jangles its way through purist pop forms, while flagship single 'Jail La La' jostles with melodic-fused post punk and streamlined riffs. Perhaps surprisingly, Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs pops up to lend a guitar-heavy fuzz-laden hand in 'Yours Alone' – a blunt and rough-around-the-edges song of love or more to the point, a coming of age of sexual awakening. Title track 'I Will Be' and 'Lines Her Eyes' act as if created on a dark day by church band choristers who’ve been force fed Delta 5.

The homage to musicians of old doesn’t end with Dee Dee et al’s obvious affections – the production of I Will Be is also a nod to their idols with Blondie, the Go-Go’s and the Fleshtones production figure Richard Gottehrer co-producing (having also featured behind the scenes for the Raveonettes in recent history). As if in a final mark of respect to musical idols, I Will Be closes with Dee Dee’s delicate take on Sonny Bono’s beloved anguish 'Baby Don’t Go' – as if Dum Dum Girls are themselves agonising over the consumer public, many of whom have forgotten what the masters of music have to offers.

Yes, this record is watermarked by the years – but for its time it may prove to be seminal, if only to remind us of a standard of music that we should never leave behind.

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