Subpop's Dum Dum Girls are nothing if not prolific. With two albums in the bag since their 2008 inception, End of Daze is also the NYC/LA girls' fourth EP. This latest effort is further evidence that the group, orchestrated by songwriter and vocalist Dee Dee, have made a transition from lo-fi indie-pop to wall of sound atmospherics. What originated as a handful of songs deemed incompatible for inclusion on 2011's sophomore album Only In Dreams has been fleshed out in to a sturdy five-track EP. As a result, we find a collection of layered and methodically sequenced songs not easily reconciled with the slapdash DIY aesthetic of DDG's earlier material, but by fusing the lo-fi of Best Coast with the dream-pop of Beach House, Dum Dum Girls remain very much on trend.
End of Daze charts a personal journey over its 18-minute duration, as Dee Dee endeavours to make sense of a traumatic event (the death of her mother). End of Daze, and the clue is in the title, is catharsis. Beginning with a continuation of the slow-burning soundscapes featured on Only In Dreams, the floating vocals of 'Mine Tonight' recall a stated influence on Dee Dee, that of Julee Cruise, as droning bass and noise-pop credentials reinforce her surrender. The strong melodic pop of 'I Got Nothing' , all distorted guitars over a busy snare beat, belies the numbness contained in the lyrics. A dreamy cover of Strawberry Switchblade's 1983 New Wave composition 'Trees and Flowers' is respectful and worthy. Dee Dee's vulnerability gives way to dramatic recognition and acceptance on the entrancing single 'Lord Knows', as she outspokenly asserts to "hang on till the calm". Closer 'Season in Hell' is warmer again, a faintly optimistic Cure-esque slice of post-punk. As shimmering guitars and frantic tambourine signal redemption, there is a willingness to break away from the past, with Dee Dee positing "doesn't the dawn look divine".
As always, Dum Dum Girls wear their inspirations firmly on sleeve, but marshal those musical touchstones to render the material familiar yet reverential and utterly contemporary. Pronounced echoes of Siouxsie and the Banshees' art-rock and of the Jesus and Mary Chain indicate an evolution beyond the influence of the Ramones and 1960s' girl-group pop. Of course, this sound is equally attributable to the input of two men responsible for the shoegaze noise-pop of the Raveonettes, producers Richard Gottehrer and Sune Rose Wagner.
Concise, emotive and eminently listenable, End of Daze's musical progression bodes well for future releases from one of the more productive dream-pop bands on the scene.
Review by Killian Barry