I spent a chunk of the early 2010s waiting for Dum Dum Girls to really become a thing, but it never really happened. Not that any of their albums were underwhelming. In fact, all three of them are quite good. It’s just that they never really broke out from the pack of all the other retro-leaning indie rock bands of the era in terms of mainstream success. Still, I Will Be stands as perhaps the band’s finest moment (along with the End of Daze EP), and as a testament to lead singer Dee Dee’s ability to craft delicious hooks draped in dread.
I Will Be really is the epitome of a no-bullshit pop-rock record, as it clocks in just under 30 minutes and not a single song breaches the 4-minute mark. An easy comparison for this band was the girl groups of the early ’60s, but there was a toughness to them that seemed more reminiscent of an all-girl punk band. Of course, considering Dee Dee’s moniker, it’s also hard not compare Dum Dum Girls a bit to the Ramones, though they don’t sound all that much like the Ramones either. Perhaps this is why they did actually stand out a bit to me compared to their other retro-leaning contemporaries – even though they felt like they were mining the past, it was hard to pin down exactly which artists they were mining from.
If anything, the production on the album still sounds fantastic. The guitars and vocals are steeped in a kind of insurmountable reverb, that gives a song like “Jail LA LA” a kind of haunted quality in addition to being incredibly catchy. I’m not sure that this was an important record necessarily, seeing as I hadn’t thought of it much since the early 2010s, but it’s definitely one that reminds me of that era. Back when indie rock was making a transition from its garage-y influences to a more pop-savvy sound. So it’s not surprising that after disbanding Dum Dum Girls in 2016, Dee Dee changed her name to Kristin Kontrol and started recording straight-up synth-pop.