Album Picks: Dum Dum Girls, Geoffrey O'Connor, Jens Lekman

Posted by Billy Gil, September 27, 2011 01:43pm | Post a Comment
Reviews of some of my favorite albums from the past couple of weeks:

Dum Dum Girls - Only In Dreams (CD or LP)

Noise popettes Dum Dum Girls started out rough, all motorcycles and dingy guitars and black nail polish, on their excellent debut album, I Will Be, before expanding the lo-fi quality of their sound to brighter places with this year’s He Gets Me High EP. They continue that trajectory with their second full-length, Only In Dreams, which ups the pop ante considerably. While The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde always had been a touchstone for singer/guitarist Dee Dee’s smoky drawl, the band’s music serves as a signpost here as well, insofar as Only in Dreams combines rock toughness and girl-group melodies in a way rarely seen with such success since that band — check out “Caught In One” for one of the best examples. Elsewhere, the band sounds a bit like early Go-Gos (the jangly “Bedroom Eyes”), The Bangles (“Hold Your Hand” is kind of like an indie-rock “Eternal Flame”) or Mazzy Star (it might bother you how much “Coming Down” sounds like “Fade Into You,” if the tremoloed riffs and breakup lyrics weren’t so damn effective). While they struggle a bit to establish their own identity apart from their forebears, Only in Dreams proves Dee Dee and co. to be formidable purveyors of classic pop-rock.

Free download of "Bedroom Eyes" by Dum Dum Girls.

And check out Dum Dum Girls at Amoeba tonight at 7!

Geoffrey O'Connor - Vanity Is Forever

Crayon Fields frontman Geoffrey O'Connor concocts the perfect cockatil of nightime, synth-driven romantic pop on his debut album. O'Connor treads a path navigated by Bryan Ferry and Peter Gabriel before him without bowing to kitschy nostagia; rather, he uses his forebears sounds with reverence and adds his particular brand of wistful indie balladeering. "Whatever Leads Me to You" sounds like a lost love theme to Blade Runner, while the duet "Things I Shouldn't Do" with its deliberate pace and pulsing synths is like a gothier version of Top Gun's Berlin number "Take My Breath Away." Sort of like the shit-hot Drive soundtrack, Vanity Is Forever soundscapes some imagined film that takes "Miami Vice" tropes and exposes their raw underbelly.

Check back on Pacific Standard Time soon for an interview with O'Connor. O'Connor plays with Jens Lekman tomorrow (Sept. 28) at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The show is $25 and starts at 8 p.m. Hopefully you got tickets already, though, I think this puppy is sold out.

Jens Lekman An Argument With MyselfJens Lekman - An Argument With Myself EP (CD or LP)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Swedish troubador Jens Lekman, and for that reason alone An Argument With Myself is worth noting. Fans can rejoice because An Argument With Myself sounds as funny, refreshing and exciting as anything Lekman has previously done, including his superb 2007 album Night Falls Over Kortedala. His trademark wry wordplay can be found in spades on the title track, which takes self-flagellation to immature extremes, as can his comical storytelling on “So This Guy at My Office.” The Belle & Sebastian/Magnetic Fields style of updated orchestrated ‘60s pop returns in the lush detail of the lite pop of “A Promise” and the horn-laden, Orange Juice-ish “New Directions,” although with a decidedly Latin feel to the latter two songs and a looser, funkier feel all around. Ultimately the EP doesn’t serve as a forum for Lekman to indulge in some previously untried sounds; rather, it delivers unto fans what they’ve likely been missing the past few years. And remember, Lekman’s breakthrough, Oh You’re So Silent Jens, was itself a collection of songs from EPs, so don’t be surprised if some of these songs end up collected down the line somewhere. Stopgap release or not, An Argument With Myself is a terrific listen nonetheless.

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Jens Lekman (8), Geoffrey O'connor (2), Dum Dum Girls (15), Album Reviews (4)