‘Style meet Substance. Substance meet…Shit, where did she go? You’ve got to meet her. She’s rad – it takes a while to get to know her but when you do she’s totally awesome, like, real deep, y’know. I know you might not really be into that, Style. You like flashiness and sparkles and shit but Substance knows about feelings and psychology and things that are really, like, hard to explain.’
With what feels like increasing regularity, a new band appears mistaking looking cool with actually being any good. Leather jackets, shades, cigarettes, Wall of Sound, brick wall in the background of press shots. You know the type. They sing songs about their -baby’. They follow a lineage that begins with The Shangri-La’s and Phil Spector and along the way takes in The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, The Jesus & Mary Chain and countless others. Except they’re never as good as any of these.
Dum Dum Girls seem to be trying so hard to be cool that it actually gets in the way. It almost feels like a genuine choice of style over, y’know, the other thing. Unlike The Stooges or The Velvets, it doesn’t feel like that Dum Dum Girls were born to be on the stage. Instead, it feels like they’re more concerned about their hipster mates thinking that they’re cool. Everything seems a little too studied.
The most frustrating element of I Will Be is the drummer’s reliance on the same incessant drumbeat in so many of the songs. Where this might be their attempt at a -trademark’ sound, here it just becomes rather irritating and ruins otherwise good songs. And there are some good ones here hidden underneath the -recorded in a flea-infested bucket’ sound. Because when The Dum Dum Girls sound like they’re not trying to be cool, such as on -Baby Don’t Go’, it’s clear that they can create 24-carat scruffy pop gems.