Dum Dum Girls | I Will Be
Most Likely To: be a late career high point for a reliable old pioneer.
Let’s take a moment to consider the absolute, utter coolness of Richard Gottehrer. The old goat has been ushering rock & roll greatness into the world for half a century now. In the 1960s, he co-wrote “I Want Candy” and “My Boyfriend’s Back.” In the ‘70s, he produced the first two albums by Blondie and co-founded Sire Records, one of the greatest labels of all-time. The ‘80s saw him helm the debuts of Marshall Crenshaw and The Go-Gos. In the ‘90s, he manned the production board for the unfairly overlooked Moonpools & Caterpillars. Simply put, the man is the shit.
Now Gottehrer is bringing his awesome self into the 21st century, co-producing Dum Dum Girls’ debut album, I Will Be, with the band’s leader, Dee Dee. And, showing that he is nothing if not open to the aesthetics of the moment, it actually sounds more primitive than his old garage band, The Strangeloves, ever did. But it’s easy to see why Dee Dee sought out his services – the Dum Dum Girls combine the girl group sound of “My Boyfriend’s Back” with punk and garage rock – all genres he helped pioneer in his younger days.
It would be easy to label Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls as sister bands and indeed there are a lot of similarities: their tunes are brisk, brief outbursts of raucous tunefulness, heavy on the feedback and harmonies, and very low on the fidelity. There are some notable differences, though. Dee Dee is a better songwriter and none of the songs on I Will Be feel like fragments, a shortcoming Vivian Girls often fall prey to. The guitars here are less fuzzy and more wiry (and Wire-y), adding a post-punk element to the garage girl-group mix.
It’s a compelling sound, calling to mind a lower budget Raveonettes or an xx-chromosome version of the Jesus and Mary Chain. Dee Dee brings plenty of memorable tunes to the proceedings, too, especially pop gems like “Bhang Bhang I’m a Burnout” and “Blank Girl.” It’s appropriate that the album concludes with a spectral cover of Sonny Bono’s “Baby Don’t Go” – Bono was one of co-producer Gottehrer’s contemporaries and a fellow pioneer in the garage and girl-group sounds.
I Will Be is a winning combination of classic and modern pop sensibilities. Only time will tell if it will achieve the kind of iconic status that so much work bearing Richard Gottehrer’s magic touch has in the past. For now it’s enough that he retains his touch for making almost anything he touches be worth hearing.
Listen to “Jail La La”:
[audio:http://subpop-public.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/audio/6255.mp3|artists=Dum Dum Girls|titles=Jail La La]