Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dum Dum Girls And The End Of Daze

Dee Dee Penny
It's easy to categorize End Of Daze as an evolution of Dum Dum Girls given the fuller sound across all five tracks. But this EP is something different with two new songs alongside two B-sides and a cover.

It doesn't make the EP any less of a bright spot in music this year. Kristin Gundred a.k.a. Dee Dee Penny sounds great, even as she breaks from the fuzzy garage noise pop that struck me last year on He Gets Me High. Since then, Penny has alluded to a darker album, making this a placeholder.

There is something bright within a darkness. 

Mine Tonight opens the EP with an ominous but much more somber and purposeful approach than some of her previous outings. The deep throated guitar and bass chug along, creating a contrast with her light, confessional vocals. And yet, it's not a light song at all. It's more like a dark lullaby.

The lyrics have a heaviness about them as she sings about loss and the feeling of being lost that comes with it. After a brief instrumental chorus, she returns to the effect. There's recognition that you may never be the same person person again, even when you're looking in the mirror.

I Got Nothing wakes things up a bit, bringing in more pop sensibilities and sounding like a lost track from He Gets Me High. She pushes the monotone and minimalist boundaries, revealing some of her power while never letting it out. The texture fits the words, a numbness over lost love and a joy over starting again from a blank slate.

Like the first track, she recorded I Got Nothing last year. And along with those, she also put down the cover Trees And Flowers. Originally recorded in 1983 by Strawberry Switchblades, Penny easily makes the song her own. She brings a sadness to it that the original purposefully never realized.

"Dawn cracks the dark ... and it breaks the silence ... of my many waking hours ... and my heartbeat's license."

Penny draws out every line, stretching the song by only a few seconds and yet making it feel impossibly long. It's haunting. It also provides the perfect bridge to the songs she recorded this year.

Reflection and regret peppered Lord Knows. Equally slow and somber, she gives up on love as a preventative against causing even more hurt and pain. But from the opening you understand it. She wants to set her course in a new direction. It's not the recently rerecorded Shivers, but there may be a hint of influence.

The last song, easily the highlight on album, brings up the pace and adds more dynamics. Props to reviewer Adrian Agacer for finding a thread from the song to Arthur Rimbaud's poem "A Season in Hell." You can decide for yourself whether or not it was an overreach, but it's worth mentioning even if I'm a bit more bullish on the EP.

Season In Hell is the redemptive track on the End Of Daze, coming across with much more polish. The chorus is a startling optimistic break from the dread in much of the album. And while I get the point that it cancels out any relentlessness some people experience, I don't expect she's playing it safe.

More likely is the ideal that Penny didn't know what to feel. When there is an absence in the heart, emptiness bends itself into a nihilism. All there is left to do is to will your head up and see any brightness that might end the daze. And in that song, Penny does that while making us wonder where she'll end up next.

End Of Daze Is A Haze Over 6.3 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

While not nearly as addictive or brassy as her last EP on its own, End Of Daze delivers something better in the context of her career. This one will be remembered. It's the kind of music you want to put on when when you're lost or losing yourself. The first four will do it, but the it's the fifth that saves you from simply drifting in the abyss.

End Of Daze by Dum Dum Girls is available on Amazon. You can also find the vinyl edition there, which comes with an MP3 code. You can also download End Of Daze from iTunes or order the CD from Barnes & Noble. You can keep up with Penny and the rest of the band on Facebook.
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