If thinking big is enough to make you a star then the Dum Dum Girls are already guaranteed a place in rock history.
The New York-based quintet perform in front of a giant illuminated heart, with the bunches of flowers tied to their microphone stands almost being big enough to cover their revealing, gothic outfits. If their aesthetics are indebted to Siouxsie And The Banshees then their music owes more to classic girl group pop.
The likes of opening number ‘Bedroom Eyes’ and ‘I Got Nothing’ are the sound of Chrissie Hynde fronting The Bangles with Phil Spector sat at the mixing desk. In common with the similarly shoe-gazey Veronica Falls, the tracks look back to 1984 in order to find the details of their craft.
This sweetly narcotic fuzz is replaced on tracks from third album Too True with a gloomy, vaguely gothic chic. Band leader Dee Dee Penny preceded the release by claiming it was bound together by an overall sonic palette, new guitar pedal and fervour. This translates into ‘Too True To Be Good’ and ‘Rimbaud Eyes’ having a more pronounced garage rock vibe, the breakdown in the latter’s middle eight offering a pleasing disruption to their sometimes predictable song structures.
It’s this ability to savour these small details that make ‘Lord Knows’ and ‘It Only Takes One Night’ such a joy, Dee Dee’s low register vocals achingly matched on the choruses by diaphanous harmonies from guitarist Jules and bassist Malia (in common with The Ramones, the band members trade under first names only).
The band’s occasionally slavish deferral to retro-pop can limit a sonic palette that’s otherwise bursting with ambition; a central contradiction that’s embodied on their set closer. A cover of the Pale Saints’ ‘Sight Of You’, the choice indicates a reluctance to leave the safe confines of indie while concurrently aiming at the big time.
It’s the push and pull of this dichotomy, however, that ultimately makes the Dum Dum Girls such fun, retro-pop perfection.
Gig date: May 4