Six years and three albums into her career, Dum Dum Girls’ Dee Dee Penny has settled into a groove as a reliable source of hip, guitar-driven garage-pop. Though she’s just one source out of many, she’s largely avoided getting stuck in the same creative ruts as some of her indie-pop contemporaries—Cults, Beach Fossils, Best Coast, Yuck, Smith Westerns, to name just a few—by displaying a willingness to move beyond the genre’s well-trodden confines. Dum Dum Girls’ catalogue doubles as an illustration of rock’s endless multiplicity, with traces of ’60s psychedelia, ’70s punk, and ’90s shoegaze mixed in with more recent strains of noise and dream pop.
That stylistic mélange applies to Too True, a crisp and confident effort that finds Dee Dee bringing an even wider array of influences into the fold. Though her tonal and lyrical sensibilities remain unchanged (opener “Cult of Love” neatly sums up the blend of gloom and romance that follows), there’s a newly minted disco shimmer, fluid basslines snaking their way through motorik rhythms and ’80s-style gated drums, a few subtle touches of synthetic noise strewn throughout. Dee Dee’s long working relationship with producers Richard Gottehrer and Sune Rose Wagner continues to bear fruit here, as the trio manage to coax a seemingly infinite range of sounds from Dee Dee’s guitars and pedals, from the punk snarl of “Evil Blooms” and electric squeal of lead single “Lost Boys and Girls Club” to the dulcet country-ballad tones of “Are You Okay” and “Under These Hands.”
It all adds up to Dee Dee’s most diverse offering to date, not nearly as coarse as 2010’s I Will Be, but not quite as hook-happy as follow-up Only in Dreams, and refreshingly brisk at just 10 tracks and 31 minutes long. For all of Dum Dum Girls’ aforementioned sound-alikes, Too True leaves the band in something of a no-man’s-land between the fuzzy dream-pop vogue of a few years ago and the polish and precision of newer acts like Chvrches and HAIM. But it proves there’s plenty of territory therein left to be explored, even without a clear direction in mind: “There’s no particular place we are going,” Dee Dee sings on “Lost Boys and Girls Club,” “Still, we are going.”