But perhaps life isn’t fair on the band either. Their looks are often the main point of reference for reviewers, their music coming in second place behind their outfits. It is easy to see why that is the case- they are smokin’ and hey- it’s the first thing I thought of when seeing them live. Let’s not forget, though, that they are signed to music aficionado label Sub Pop, that they were at the start of the blaze which conch called the likes of Vivian Girls, Las Robertas and Warpaint to the genre and that their jingly music has deeper meanings behind it. According to Pitchfork their first full length album’s initial concept was based around an Italian woman’s only jail in the 60s and their pastiche of 60s Go-Go bands infiltrates the feminist stand of the last century.
There are so many ‘all male’ bands doing the same psych-garage sounds- Crocodiles, Harlem, Girls- yet no review I have read ever comments on the fact they have penises and wear jeans with just enough rips, flashing the flesh. It isn’t that femininity in a band should be glossed over- it is part of Dum Dum Girls charm, stage persona and homage to the 1960s, but it shouldn’t be the main event.
At times Dum Dum Girls do fall short- sometimes their music seems entrapped in its own reverence for the likes of the Velvet Underground and the Raveonettes. Yet even though their music is derivative those 1960’s go-go bands it evokes are just as much part of the whole women-in-music debate- ultimately can a girl group not embroiled in the scantily clad pop scene infiltrate the mainstream? It’s a testament to Dum Dum Girls just how crowded their London gig was, even if it was on the male-heavy side. There are reviews of that gig which place them as style-over-substance, giving a boring and talentless performance. Even though at times their preference for feedback made the gig roll slowly they showed themselves to be a true band. Beginning the set with a slower number set the tone that the band weren’t just going to do their best known stuff. Their vocal harmonies were flawless, their stage presence magnetic. It’s amazing to see so many girl fronted bands breaking into the ‘boys only’ clubs, but bands like Dum Dum Girls shouldn’t be lumped into the same category as Best Coast just because they both have cute female singing.
So cynics might say Dum Dum Girls have wiggled their noses ‘Bewitched’ style and made the music industry men fall at their feet (because apparently even in 2010 that stereotypical ‘hot-girl-gets-promoted” mentality is still pathetically rife). However, they wouldn’t have held on so far without having a semblance of musicality and without hooking into the genre of the moment.