Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High (Sub Pop)

An inbetween records EP from some girls that we're still trying to figure out.

Released Mar 7th, 2011 via Sub Pop / By Liv Willars
Dum Dum Girls - He Gets Me High (Sub Pop) After the promise of great things from their early demos, when Dum Dum Girls' debut longplayer I Will Be finally reached our stereos, it was the sound of a band intrinsically focussed on one sound and one sound only; a pitter patter drum beat with repetitive swooning vocals softly swimming over overdriven guitars, quietly stirring but altogether lacking in the energy and excitement that should have easily been within their grasp. It hung around my record player for a while ('Bhang Bhang, I'm A Burnout' and 'Jail La La' kept me coming back for more), but eventually became lost under fresher releases that managed to keep my attention peaked from start to finish.

The release of a four track EP between albums is always an interesting listen. Time has passed; there have been tours, playing the older songs over and over until all that's required is muscle memory alone. New music has been discovered, old favourites have been revisited. There's a lot to go on. He Gets Me High is the metamorphosis of the Dum Dum Girls' previously limited sound, encompassing a wider set of influence, with stronger reference to c86 and a strangely British feel.

Opener 'Wrong Feels Right' echoes the candid nature of 80's bands such as the Marine Girls and Talulah Gosh, swerving away from overtly pacing garage rock towards a more genuine, heartfelt honesty. Before now the Dum Dum Girls have always seemed like four inaccessible girls from another planet, with their uniformed striped tights, bright lips, long hair and stoic stage presence, rarely cracking a smile. But this track in some way humanises them, providing a very personal feel, like finally striking up a conversation with the quiet girl at school and finding out you weren't so different after all.

'He Gets Me High' starts with the same refrain as 'Bhang Bhang...' and is the most like their previous material, but demonstrates a greater force now at work. In keeping with the title, there's a psychedelic tremor running under the vocals that transforms the layered harmonies into a pleasurable, woozy headrush. The following 'Take Care Of My Baby' tells the tale of a forlorn romance, pacing and mournful, but gets a little weary and becomes lost after a while.

Unfortunately there aren't any heart-grabbing melodies to be found here – the only sign of a hook comes courtesy of the Morrissey/Marr songbook. Ever since Mark Ronson excreted all over The Smiths' back catalogue with his ill-advised rendition of 'Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before', covering The Smiths seems to be fair game for any fans looking to pay homage to their teenage idols. Dum Dum Girls choose to take on 'There Is A Light That Will Never Go Out', and thankfully manage to wrap the choruses up in their own overdriven urgency. Their garagey makeover manages to retain the sentiments of the song, without producing a carbon copy. As the Girls' signature chiming guitars rattle underneath, Dee Dee's voice transforms from a slightly despondent drawl to a tender pining, reinforcing the subject matter with delicate affection.

With four very different tracks showcasing the Dum Dum Girls' strengths and intrepid songwriting, He Gets Me High is a reminder that we still have a lot to learn about the ambiguous wearers of leather and lace. It should be worth the wait.