On several levels, Dum Dum Girls’ second full-length Only in Dreams is a great leap forward for a gifted songwriter and an equally gifted band—it’s heavy, deeply personal stuff and surely unprecedented for this style of music. “The first record was basically the first songs I’d ever written,” says band-leader Dee Dee, “and I was thinking nostalgically about being a teenager. This record, it was pretty much impossible not to write about very recent, very real things.” Very real things indeed: Dee Dee wrote “Hold Your Hand” immediately after her mother (the pretty lady on the cover of both the Dum Dum Girls’ self-titled 2009 debut EP and their 2010 debut album I Will Be) was diagnosed with what turned out to be a fatal illness, and it’s one of several songs on Only in Dreams that unsparingly trace her mom’s passing. Other songs spell out the emotional toll of separation from one’s lover, something Dee Dee had to deal with while she and her husband (Brandon Welchez of the acclaimed noise-pop band Crocodiles) pursued their own tour schedules.
Only in Dreams more than fulfills the promise of 2011’s acclaimed and fast-selling He Gets Me High EP. It retains Dum Dum Girls’ signature blend of the girl-gang eyeliner punk of the Shangri-Las, the trashy propulsion of the Cramps, and the moody atmospherics of Mazzy Star, but for the first time, all four Dum Dum Girls play and sing on the album. Now the harmonies have more depth, Jules plays her own distinctive guitar leads, and the Bambi (bass)/Sandy (drums) rhythm section powers the music like a vintage V-8 engine. Best of all, tons of time on the road—including two massively successful headlining tours—have molded Dum Dum Girls into a very formidable rock & roll band, giving the music an undeniable force.
And now that power and glory is showcased by full-on studio production—while I Will Be was recorded at home and modestly spiffed up in a studio by legendary pop maestro Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Go-Go’s), Only in Dreams was recorded at Josh Homme’s Pink Duck Studios, and Gottehrer again produced, this time with Sune Rose Wagner from the Raveonettes.
Only in Dreams represents a musical evolution for Dum Dum Girls and a personal one for Dee Dee, and that’s no coincidence. “I’m for real,” she says. “We all are. I’m really passionate about this, it’s all I know. And maybe we’ve just grown up a bit-or grown out a bit. There’s some weight to what we do, and a pure intent, and I think that comes across on this album.”