Released on Jan. 28, 2014, “Too True” is the latest record from the dream pop band Dum Dum Girls. The big, reverb-y, washed-out guitar sound that permeates the album calls to mind the work of Smiths’ guitarist Johnny Marr and shoegaze artists like My Bloody Valentine. This strong guitar presence keeps the band from sounding like traditional pop. “As much as I’d like to say Dum Dum Girls is a sort of pop band, I definitely feel like we’re some sort of guitar band,” said Dee Dee Penny.
Dee Dee is the stage name for Kristin Welchez, the group’s lead singer and songwriter. On the origin of her stage name, Dee Dee said “other than sounding like a punk name that you might come up with when you’re, like, 15, it’s actually my mother’s name and I took it as a middle name. It’s coincidentally Ramones-esque.”
Dee Dee described the writing and recording process for “Too True” as representative of “equally or potentially the bigger portion of why I’m a musician.” With this record, she said, “I felt like I had something that needed to get out all at once. I was freed from a lot of the baggage that had consumed and overwhelmed me the last three years. I finally felt like I had a clean slate again.” Having just moved from Los Angeles to New York and looking to start over, Dee Dee found clarity in the urgency that she attributes to the Big Apple. In the city, Dee Dee said, “I finally came to a more lucid understanding of myself… I finally understood mistakes I had made and realized how to absorb that into a bigger picture.”
This new sense of personal comfort isn’t hard to find when listening to the album. “I sat down and demoed the whole record in, like, a week and a half,” Dee Dee said, “which is something I’ve never done before.”
With her electric guitar in hand, she not only recorded both rhythm and lead guitar for “Too True’s” demos, but bass and all of the vocals as well. Dee Dee said “for every Dum Dum Girls’ release, there are always demo tracks added underneath each song for color.” In addition to the quick focus with which “Too True’s” demos were recorded, Dee cites the change in her rhythm guitar-picking pattern “from an up-and-down thing to, not like a bar-chord, down stroke, punk thing, but to a much faster rhythm” as another sonic difference that one can hear on the album.
These qualities can certainly be heard on Dee Dee’s favorite tracks, “Under These Hands” and “Too True to Be Good.” The writing of “Under These Hands,” which Dee Dee said was “really, really fun,” involved a moment of inspiration that led to the instrumental breakdown she used in the middle of the song.
To Dee Dee, the value of Dum Dum Girls’ music isn’t just in the recording process. “The beauty of art is the exchange between the creator and the listener,” Dee Dee said. Although she is proud of “Too True,” the urgency that produced it shows no signs of disappearing. “This band for me is always a work in progress,” said Dee Dee. “It’s essentially a vehicle for me to write and record.”