Enticing listeners with danger.
It's tempting to call Dum Dum Girls' music bubblegum pop, but the term is not a perfect fit. "Bubblegum" brings to mind the sweet yet wholesome hooks of late-'60s acts like the Osmonds and the Monkees. While Dum Dum Girls make melodies that are as toothsome as the lollipops of the same name, they also entice listeners with danger.
Clad in black leather jackets and severe red lipstick, the band look like a biker gang led by inky-haired femme fatale Dee Dee Penny. The despair Penny unfurls is the most perilous part of the journey. Poison coated in pure sugar, it goes down easy and does lasting damage -- in a hurts-so-good way.
Here are three songs that'll wreck you at the group's Oct. 23 show at the High Noon Saloon, if they appear on the set list.
A standout from Only in Dreams, the 2011 album Penny wrote in the wake of her mother's death, this ballad sounds like how a disorienting sensation feels. It's akin to being dragged underwater by a masochistic siren, or half-waking from a Twilight-themed dream. You might even compare it to being drunk, specifically that blissful moment before the high turns into something much less pleasant.
Woozy, ominous and drenched in reverb, "Coming Down" warns you to keep your distance, but that's virtually impossible. When Penny breaks into the heart-wrenching couplet "You abuse the ones who love you/You abuse the ones who won't" and a soaring cry of "I'm gone," you'll be forced to give in.
Nestled in the middle of the band's new release, Too True, this track honors the gothic side of '80s New Wave: those Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen songs that convinced teen boys to wear black eyeliner. Though the song's named after a French poet from the 19th century, its roots are in a T-shirt Penny's husband Brandon Welchez picked up while touring with his band Crocodiles. As she told Radio.com, the shirt contains a portrait of the poet as a young man, and Welchez wore it every day for two years.
"I started thinking about what it means to have this piercing glance, and it was jokingly referred to as 'Rimbaud Eyes' in my head," she remarked at Coachella.
In other words, the look on Rimbaud's face is so intense that no eyeliner is needed to communicate his emotional state.
Penny has stated that covering her favorite artists' songs is even more affecting than performing her own work. While her beloved cover of Pale Saints' "Sight of You" was retired recently, she and her crew might play a classic Smiths tune like "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" on Thursday night. If that happens, expect an onslaught of fantasies about gruesome accidents involving 10-ton trucks and reckless young lovers.