It seems like the Dum Dum Girls have successfully evaded the backlash that threatened to envelop the fuzzy, Spector-indebted sound that seemingly every indie-pop band hitched their wagon to a couple years ago. Maybe that’s to do with lead singer Kristin “Dee Dee” Gundred’s character, or the fact that I Will Be crept up on us relatively un-hyped, or maybe it’s because a song like “Jail La La” is such an untouchable work of pop-craft that no genre-tag can weigh it down with ill-perceived notions. Whatever the case, the Dum Dums entirely deserve a four-song victory lap.
And He Gets Me High is a bit of a victory lap. You know any record that has a Smiths cover buried in the back is sourced from some throwaway studio-sessions. But luckily each of the songs that make up the EP deserve their spotlight, revealing a new, sturdier incarnation of Dee Dee’s songwriting – pushing the treble-mulching lo-fi to the side for a greater take of full-bodied guitar-pop. Honestly these songs wouldn’t find much of a home on I Will Be. The stampede drums and flowery jangle of opener “Wrong Feels Right” or the light psychedelic swirl of the title-track sound like a concentrated dose of the Dum Dum essence. The brittle pop skeletons have been beefed-up and dutifully studio-tested, the balladry of “Take Care of My Baby” might be the record’s weakest track, but its aching melancholy swoon shows off Dee Dee in a completely different light. Not many stepping-stone EPs can claim to add a new perspective to an established band.
He Gets Me High ends with the aforementioned stripped-down cover of “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which is probably the most traditional sounding Dum Dum Girls song on the record. The strong-armed guitar brushes, Dee Dee’s ghoulish coos; it’s a far-cry from the tenderness of the original. But even at its most elemental moments He Gets Me High sounds a lot more expansive than their debut. It might not be essential listening, but it certainly can be taking as foreshadowing of what a high-budgeted Dum Dum Girls might sound like. If that’s the case we have a reason to be excited.