A darker, deeper collection that builds well on the LA band’s debut LP.
Jen Long 2011-09-27
Much like fashion and film, music has its fads and trends. 2010’s explosion of C86-styled slacker guitar nostalgia gave us a host of Best Coast and Vivian Girls types; but it’s these four ladies from Los Angeles who have crafted the strongest comeback for 2011.
While Only in Dreams isn’t a particularly large leap from the group’s debut album of 2010, I Will Be, it has the feeling of a band progressing in their own rights, under their own terms. Retained is the classic tom-tom rock beat muffled under lightly grunge guitar riffs and omnipresent hooks – but there’s a heavier context, too. Gone are the throwaway "la-la-la" vocals, replaced by lyrics that delve deeper and hit harder. It’s darkly relatable material, and Dum Dum Girls are all the better for it.
Part of this can be attributed to the recent death of lead singer Dee Dee’s mother, but there’s certainly nothing morbid in the new material’s delivery. It’s reminiscent of early of Montreal: the crushingly bleak executed in a twist of pop that nearly undermines its subject matter. "Don’t bother asking how my day was / Everyday drags the same just because without you I can’t get out of my bed" mourns Dee Dee on In My Head, in a manner that could be translated into any world of heartbreak.
Teardrops On My Pillow is a lament to the lost, while Coming Down drags even deeper into solitude. But it’s closing track Hold Your Hand that gifts a stunning final blow: "Oh I wish it wasn’t true / But there’s nothing I can do except hold your hand / Until the very end."
There are two faces to Only in Dreams: one is a collection of Shangri-Las-tinged pop, while the other is a record thick in emotion. It’s the second side to this set that confirms Dum Dum Girls as more than purveyors of a passing trend.