Dum Dum Girls: “Teardrops on My Pillow”
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking that the music world needs a new Chrissie Hynde, you’re in luck: the Dum Dum Girls have arrived in full-on early Pretenders mode, and boy do they do it well. Lead singer Dee Dee (all of “the Girls” go by first names only — if they were to adopt the Ramones way of doing things, I suppose she’d be Dee Dee Dum Dum) is a dead ringer for Chrissie Hynde on the first few Pretenders albums, in all the right ways — she doesn’t necessarily sound as though she’s trying to be that way, it’s just that her vocal range and tone are nearly identical. As for the band’s backing instrumentation, they sound a bit more like early Pretenders if Johnny Marr had been filling in for James Honeyman-Scott on guitar.
None of this would be all that cool if the songwriting wasn’t up to snuff, but it most certainly is. Their Sept. 2011 release, Only in Dreams, is their second full-length LP (they have several EPs to their credit as well) and is full of fully realized songs that churn with a confident energy thoughout. In fact, I think it’s that confidence that makes me think of Chrissie Hynde as well — much like Hynde, when Dee Dee sings, you know that she knows it’s a great song. And she knows that you know that. You know?
Every song on the album brings with it a joy in the listening, the realization that it’s still possible to hear new music that doesn’t rely on instrumental, vocal, or production gimmickry. Sure, they use a lot of reverb, but that’s no different than many great bands in the past (the Jesus and Mary Chain springs to mind) — reverb has been with us since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. There’s a refreshing basic approach to the Dum Dum Girls’ brand of rock — a bit like the Shangri-La’s doing “Leader of the Pack” in the twenty-first century, with deeper songwriting across the board.
There are many great moments on Only in Dreams, but the song that most immediately grabbed me as a future classic is “Teardrops on My Pillow,” which despite the familiar-sounding title is an original composition. It kicks in with a Smiths/Cure-like intro, and then Dee Dee brings the Hynde-ness amidst a bit of Phil Spector-ish production. Note that I’m doing a lot of comparing to other music here, but really, the overall amalgam of sounds comes off as unique, a logical progression from any and all of those aforementioned musicians that doesn’t sound merely like a carbon copy of any of them. Go check out more of Only in Dreams and you’ll get the full effect for yourself.