Dee Dee of Dum Dum Girls spends most of I Will Be, the group’s first full-length, convincingly conveying her superiority. In “Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout,” she’s a stoner and doesn’t care what you think about it. In “Everybody’s Out,” she let’s you know that her “baby’s better than you.” In “Lines Her Eyes,” she vaguely threatens a girl who she knows is trying to be too much like her. Even in songs like “Rest Of Our Lives,” when she’s swooning over a boy, it’s she who wants to “take you for a ride.”
Richard Gottehrer, founder of Sire Records and producer of hits ranging from “My Boyfriend’s Back” to “Blank Generation,” gave the finishing touches to I Will Be, and did a bang-up job. The record sounds incredibly polished in a way that enhances, rather than disregarding, the sloppy bedroom overdrive that typified Dum Dum Girls’ early vinyl recordings. He brings Frankie Rose’s quartz-clock drums to the forefront and, unless extra-dramatic effect is needed, records them cleanly. Because Rose plays pretty direct, classic-sounding beats, their prominence gives the record a familiarity — the songs feel like they’ve been heard before.
Dee Dee’s strong, confident voice and songwriting compensates for the lack of originality. Though the Gottehrer connection — and endless comparisons to her friends, former labelmates, and current touchstone Vivian Girls — leads one to assume a girl-group sound, and while that influence is present, this has much more of a riff-driven mid-’60s garage vibe. The upbeat “I Will Be,” for instance, sounds remarkably like what some kids in the day might have written in an attempt to mimic “For Your Love.” There’s a vague shoegazey buzzing, and a melody that seems ripped directly from a New Order song, but overall, the album sounds straightforward: garage-rock filtered through time.
I Will Be is a pop record, unsubstantial but incredibly fun to listen to. It’s also empowered in a real but entirely traditional way, like Nancy Sinatra: tough, cool and not without heart. The album cover is a photo of Dee Dee’s mom, and yeah, she’s rifling through her closet, but she looks like she’s not to be fucked with, and she’s wearing a ridiculous amount of mascara.