Live Review

Dum Dum Girls, Stereo, Glasgow

There’s a lot of velvet, mesh, and tights. There’s even a French maid outfit.

Dum Dum Girls come burlesque, with matching guitars and powdered, made-up 50s gloss. Unfortunately, the show doesn’t seem to extend much beyond this vibe. That’s alright for some bands, but it robs these four girls of power; there’s regular, plain feeling a little absent. They harbour strong grounds for Vivian Girls comparisons, but unfortunately there are few that don’t favour the latter.

So there’s a lot of black. There’s a retro-goth vibe going on, but it’s at once neither too retro, nor too goth. Yes, they (almost) all have black hair. Yes, there’s a lot of velvet, mesh, and tights. Yes, there’s even a French maid outfit. But Dum Dum Girls don’t cross over into parody in their presentation. They keep it tied down with a distinct aire of sincerity. Who knows, they may even wear this gear in their van.

Their music serves as an extension of this impression. Lots of temolo and reverb. Harmony. Those little guitar solos / breaks played slow on the top string that, soon I’m sure, will be on display in museums. It’s slow and it’s essentially throwback. However, tried and true this formula may be, strong it’s not. Catchy. They have catchy for sure (see ‘Catholicked’ and the claps and woos it gets afterwards). It’s pretty weak though. It’s not too polished. It’s not too rough. It’s just that, live, it lacks character. Nowhere is this more evident than in lead vocals: Dee Dee’s a good singer, and she looks the part, but it’s so textbook.

Let’s talk about this Vivian Girls comparison. Vivian Girls don’t dress up; that’s a little superficial though. What’s the deeper difference between the two? Well, Vivian Girls are really fucking strong. They’re even catchier. There’s real heartache in all of Cassie’s songs, and her voice portrays it beautifully. There’s massive power there, something that’s just absent from Dum Dum Girls. They have the looks and the hooks, but where’s the meat?

They’ll get bigger, but the second album won’t soar as high as the first. Fundamentally, they’re hyped, they’re together, they’re ready and able, but they’re not all there. When one looks at that in light of their most obvious predecessors, the point is only emphasised. That’s where they suffer, and that’s where I feel they will fall.

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