Dum Dum Girls End of Daze(Sub Pop) Buy it from Insound
Let this EP be memorable, if for nothing else, for the marvelous absence of that dreaded, overplayed 60s surf beat. Alright, well maybe you can still hear it in I Got Nothing, but regardless, this is a significantly creative milestone in Dum Dum Girls’ career. Over the course of five songs, a mere eighteen minutes, the band has expressed and mastered a wider variety of textures and moods than that found on either of their two albums. As the band’s heart and soul, the changes on End of Daze essentially reflect the growth and maturation of singer and songwriter Dee Dee Penny.
Prior to this End of Daze, the thought of Dum Dum Girls as anything other than trendy indie pop would have been a little farfetched. Last year’s Only in Dreams was significantly richer in sound than I Will Be, but it was hardly outside the Best Coast league. End of Daze changes this entirely. From opener Mine Tonight’s waltzing bass and guitar to its reverb-heavy crescendo – Dee Dee’s voice a constant presence throughout the climax – it’s clear that this is a different beast entirely. A comparison to The Raveonettes might be fair in terms of aesthetic, but even they haven’t been able to incorporate earworms this irresistible into their reverb soundscapes.
The EP’s first single, Lord Knows is one of the band’s most deceptively simple yet profound songs; over a simple chord progression, Dee Dee’s beautifully sung lyrics explore a deeper sense of emotion – regret, remorse – yet to be explored in a Dum Dum Girls song. Much like the first rays of light after the storm, the song is told from the perspective of an emotionally abusive lover, mourning over the pain she has afflicted on her partner. It brings to mind certain lyrics from Coming Down, which come opposite perspective in the relationship. Listening to Coming Down’s final verse, “You abuse the ones you love/You abuse the ones who don’t/If you ever had a real heart/I don’t think you’d know where to start,” followed by the Lord Knows’ chorus, “Oh boy, I can’t hurt you anymore/Lord knows I’ve hurt my love,” anyone should at least appreciate Dee Dee’s ability to reverse the roles so sincerely and despairingly.
What also makes this songwriting metamorphosis so alluring is the space Dum Dum Girls can now afford in their production. Reverb, rather than a crutch, now becomes a tool to illustrate the cosmic esotericism in their music. What does it mean for songs like I Got Nothing and Season in Hell? It means that these are not so much songs as they are experiences. Dee Dee takes Strawberry Switchblade’s 1983 single Trees and Flowers and recreates it in such a way that it becomes a snapshot of universal insecurity (“Can’t you see?/I get so frightened/No one else seems frightened/Only me”). There is agelessness and timelessness in the echoes of Dee Dee’s voice, the lingering notes of each chord, and the pulsing drums, an echo that expands upon what is already brilliant songwriting.
Love and loneliness is hardly an uncommon theme in Dee Dee’s songs, but End of Daze collects what is undoubtedly her most articulate and convincing. Dum Dum Girls have graduated from a class of reverb junkies to becoming potentially one of the most potent and distinct pop bands of our time. End of Daze is on a separate level of artistic creativity and economy. If this EP is a promise – a promise to deliver an album that expands on its strengths – then there are few things to be as highly anticipated as the next Dum Dum Girls album.4 October, 2012 - 08:23 — David Hogg