(Originally written for Freedom Spark, I genuinely urge you all to get this album when its released on the 26th. It possibly my favourite of the year so far, and I’m so excited to get my vinyl copy of it. Vinyl geek for life!)
I think every band should sound like the Dum Dum Girls. Plain and simple. Not only do they encapsulate every exceptional part of 1960′s girl groups (AKA the most wonderful pop era ever and possibly the best musical era ever), but they do it with an added edge that sets them above all others, in my eyes at least. And coupling Only In Dreams with this years earlier ‘He Gets Me High’ EP, means that Dum Dum Girls are very much staking a claim for my favourite release of 2011. But enough of this little love letter, ‘Only In Dreams’ is, in short, a bloody brilliant effort.
Opening with ‘Always Looking’, the album is set off to a pretty much perfect start. A tambourine infused ode to the search for love, with a hauntingly beautiful chorus of “Oh I never felt a beat in my heart, ‘til you made it start”. Complete this with a fantastically undulating bass and guitar combination, and a bar has been set. It’s the kind of track that echoes back to a time when music was actually good (surely we can do away with Gaga et al after this?)
Thankfully this is followed swiftly by another gem in the form of ‘Bedroom Eyes’. With sultry vocals cooing the lyrics “I need your bedroom eyes”, its difficult not to fall hopelessly in love with it. Musically its a very typical Dum Dum Girls track, the perfect balance of 60s pop, and even occasionally full on rock ‘n’ roll, a combination that not only work fantastically, but is heaven to the ears. And don’t even get me started on the lyrics: “I see your body in the doorway so it seems, but must accept my eyes betraying these half-dreams”, succinctly describing a situation 99% of us have been through at least (and if not, then you’re just not living enough!)
‘Just A Creep’ is a whirlwind of handclaps and taunting lyrics, with some devilish guitar work to boot. Appealing to the anti-romantic in everyone (or does that say more about me?), take the phrase “But you act so sweet, and you don’t cut deep, you’re just a little creep”, breaking it to ‘em clear as day.
‘In My Head’ appeals to the opposing side, the sloppy romantic in me, fulfilling not only tuneful melodies that rattle around my head for days (apologies to anyone that crosses my path and endures my sorry attempts to sing this!) but combines it with achingly tender lyrics. I swear my heart breaks every time I hear “Come home and kiss me, tell me you miss me, tell me it right”. And that’s not even covering strangely captivating “Because without you I can’t get out of our bed, I’d rather visit you in my head”.
Similarly enchanting is the fantastic ‘Heartbeat’, a song which heightens my belief that the Dum Dum Girls are, simply, the best girl group since the 60′s. Generous maybe, but if you can mix wonderful harmonies with rock n roll guitars and lyrics that actually mean something, then you’re away laughing. Throw in some of the best Smiths-esque guitar (perhaps some of the best since Marr himself) and you have a brilliant soundtrack for the days getting shorter and colder; it warms the heart!
‘Caught In One’ is another song of lost loves and the pain of moving on, and once again the idea is romanticised to a point where, you know, I think it sounds really rather nice. “This year’s been a drag/Who thought it’d be so bad?” is a lyric that’s so relatable that I feel the pain in every note. Maybe its one for that age old maxim: write about what you know.
The pace slows down with next track ‘Coming Down’, a track dripping with despair and ever-so dramatic drum beats. And there’s even some incredible Mariah-esque warbling from lead vocalist Dee Dee Penny. Next track ‘Wasting Away’ sees a perk back up in the pace, bursting full of swooning melodies and cutting lyrics. Never too maudlin though, the crashing drums and spiralling guitars perfectly soundtrack Dee Dee’s reiterances if “I’d rather waste away than see you only in dreams”.
‘Teardrops On My Pillow’ may have a title the makes it sound like it belongs in Grease, and the harmonies on this track do little to dismiss that. Just let me point out that this is no bad thing. Perhaps one of the more ‘sing-a-long’ tracks on the album; the percussion leads the rise and fall nature of the song, combining with sone fabulous harmonies, to create a beast of a song. If I could only listen to one song for the rest of the year, this would be it.
Closing on ‘Hold Your Hand’ its an almost lacklustre close to a bloody good album. Note the importance of the almost there: its still 10 times better than a lot of the rubbish that’s been released this year. Featuring the strangely comforting lyric “I wish it wasn’t true but there’s nothing I can do except hold your hand until the very end”, the gentle, almost aching nature of the song redeems it, and puts the lid on what has to be one of the top contenders for an album of the year nod come the end of the year.