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He Gets Me High EP
Sub Pop
Format: CDEP / 12" / Digital
Release Date: March 1, 2011
By Michael Snyder July 27, 2011

Revealing increased sophistication, Dum Dum Girls’ most recent four-track EP, their first new release since debut album I Will Be (HoZac/Sub Pop, 2010), should be divorced from any lazy critical descriptor of “girl group” or “reverb” or whatever. It’s just a fine indie-pop release with strong, appealing vocals, simple but effective guitars, and well-crafted songs.

An emotive opener, “Wrong Feels Right” grabs your attention immediately with energy and drama.  The second, title track employs a garage-y, thumping, primitive rock vibe, replete with fuzzy, distorted wah-wah pedal.  A more subtle and understated number, “Take Care of My Baby” is a simple and touching waltz that recalls the most pastoral moments of Throwing Muses.  As for the closer, when I saw the title, I was skeptical, but Dum Dum Girls actually pull off an interesting cover of The Smiths’ masterpiece “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” the title of which they have abbreviated to “There Is a Light.” The song has been covered a fair amount over the years; Dee Dee and company’s take doesn’t top the original but it does offer a stripped-down and chugging but still evocative take on Morrissey and Marr’s lambent composition for the ages.  It sounds a bit like Dee Dee is fronting The Wedding Present.

For production, Dum Dum Girls brought in music-biz veteran Richard Gottehrer, a founder of Sire Records, with whom they worked on their I Will Be album. He is joined by Sune Rose Wagner of The Ravonettes, whose influence can be detected most on “He Gets Me High.”  Back in the 1960s, Gottehrer, together with Bob Feldman and Jerry Goldstein, penned such period pop singles  as “My Boyfriend’s Back,” a 1963 smash for The Angels (though originally intended for The Shirelles) and “I Want Candy,” a 1965 hit for their band The Strangeloves and later for Bow Wow Wow. During the latter band’s new wave era, he produced Blondie’s self-titled debut (Chrysalis, 1976) and co-produced The Go-Go’s debut Beauty and the Beat (IRS, 1981). The Raveonettes and these projects all have some varying degree of relevance to the sound of He Gets Me High, although the Dum Dum Girls’ songwriting and vocals are more notable than many of the older acts with whom Gottehrer worked. At times, He Gets Me High recalls artists as disparate as the Go-Betweens, Opal, Belly, Aisler’s Set, and Lida Husik, and reveals much talent and increased stylistic dexterity.  This impressive EP favorably forecasts their next full-length, Only In Dreams, to be released in September.

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