For how much praise and critical acclaim that comes their way, Dum Dum Girls still seem underrated. Perhaps it has something to do with timing, arriving around the same time as garage rock revivalists like Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts. Yet in a relatively short time, Dum Dum Girls have undergone a remarkable progression. And based on the track record of last decade’s garage hype like The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, that’s not always an easy thing to do. Much of this has to do with Dee Dee Penny, a gifted songwriter and musician whose songs, especially on this release and last year’s Only In Dreams evoke powerful emotions. And much of the band’s recent work stems from love, loss and grief. Only In Dreams dealt heavily with the death of Dee Dee’s mother (who was on the cover of I Will Be). And End of Daze represents another step in an ongoing journey through emotionally driven soundscapes.
End Of Daze is a short, but relatively sweet experience, with gorgeous harmonies that pervade the album. At times angelic, and thoroughly atmospheric, the EP is brimming with melancholy, made all the more enchanting through its layers of reverb and shoegaze/post-punk influence. “Season In Hell” bolsters this melodic feeling with reflections on some hard experiences. With its catchy chorus, “It’s been a season in hell/ Baby don’t you know,” the song conveys the pain and sadness that accompanies a tremendous loss, but ends with a sense of hope as Dee Dee sings, “Lift your gaze/ It’s the end of daze.”
“Lord Knows,” a fabulous cover of a Strawberry Switchblade song, likewise balances its pain with a redemptive optimism. “Lord knows how I hurt my love,” Dee Dee croons, with other lines like “Gonna hang on till the calm/ The day we wake up feeling clear” juxtaposed, reinforcing the yearning for hope. “I Got Nothing” and “Trees And Flowers” are, on the Kübler-Ross scale, the EP’s representations of anger and depression. The former conveys a sense of hopelessness and despair while being left speechless, while the latter merely spews vitriol at nature, and instead seeks isolation as a way to cope.
Though it’s brief, End Of Daze serves as another worthwhile transition in the DDG catalog. It boasts some of the band’s strongest musicianship, and for that matter production (half of which comes courtesy of The Raveonettes’ Sune Rose Wagner). More importantly, it’s an album that’s honest. Dee Dee’s vocals have never sounded so rich and dreamlike, recalling the great, hazy female vocalists of the early ’90s like My Bloody Valentine’s Bilinda Butcher, Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. DDG are on an exciting path; with this EP serving as another starting point, one can only imagine the potential for the next full-length.
Video: Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows”