Dee Dee Penny and her band Dum Dum Girls made their name on primitivism, only to demolish the expectations they'd created for themselves. Even the name Dum Dum Girls suggests adherence to the garage-bound basics, and the group's early recordings follow suit. But the new Too True is different: A streamlined record, it borrows the cool, plainspoken efficiency of its predecessors while slickening and smartening the songs themselves.
Too True finds Penny calling on the assistance of Richard Gottehrer (who wrote "My Boyfriend's Back," "Hang On Sloopy" and "I Want Candy," among others) and The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner, both of whom know their way around garage-rock — and both of whom help Dum Dum Girls split the difference between the guitar-fueled rumble of a '60s basement and the synth-friendly shimmer of an '80s studio. But the additional polish never overwhelms the songwriting.
Dum Dum Girls' music has long thrived on its concision, and that extends to the economy of phrasing at work here. Penny's songs are no less quotable for their simplicity, whether she's name-checking 19th-century poet Arthur Rimbaud ("Rimbaud Eyes"), fitting the album's title into the chorus of "Too True to Be Good" or dispensing a perfect goth-pop mission statement in "Evil Blooms": "Why be good? Be beautiful and sad." On Too True, Penny and Dum Dum Girls need barely 30 minutes to prove that a band can be all three at once.