album reviews

Dum Dum Girls
Only In Dreams
Sub Pop (2011)

Kindred spirits: the Pretenders, the Ronettes, Mazzy Star.

Dum Dum Girls' reverb-laden lo-fi pop evokes the summery breeze of their California home, with charmingly catchy bubble-gum tunes peppering their second and most recent album, "Only in Dreams." The all-female quartet has a retro sound that owes as much to the up-tempo pop of the Ronettes as to the dreamy haze of Mazzy Star.

Adding to the group's throwback vibe, lead singer Dee Dee bears an uncanny likeness to Chrissy Hynde, her pouty vocals way more prominent here than on the group's first release. That gives her a more confident sound, as she belts out the wailing "Heartbeat" and gives a sultry wink to the self-assured "Always Looking." Even on songs drenched in sorrow (many of the tracks here reference her mother's recent death), she never mopes; "Teardrops on My Pillow" has a breezy sway that belies the song's sad lyrics.

Dum Dum Girls' music works best in short bursts; the 10 songs here clock in at less than 37 minutes, making most tracks a perfect bite-size length. The only exception is also the album's weak point — the 6 1/2-minute "Coming Down" is slowed to a funereal pace, absent of the energy that makes the rest of the album so alluring.

At their best, though, Dum Dum Girls exude a lively confidence that just feels effortless.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 21 October 2011
.: Only In Dreams on