Remember the Beach House performance that I described while discussing Bloom? No? That’s fine, I’ve seen the Google Analytics numbers. That night, Beach House was the opening act. They were riding off of the success of Teenage Dream, but of course, it’s hard to stand beside the massive success of Vampire Weekend, who headlined the night. The show was at Radio City Music Hall. The seats were filled by the time Vampire Weekend took the stage, and the turnout for Beach House was a massive, nearly full theatre. But there was another opener that night who played before Beach House. The audience was paltry and thin, and on the stage in the dark were Dum Dum Girls playing the little material that they had out of their debut LP.
It was a weary, sad performance. To be fair, this seemed more the fault of the venue than the band. They were kept in the dark. There was hardly an audience to play to. But more than this was simply that Dum Dum Girls music was never meant to fill a venue so large. It’s the kind of music that you can image perfectly tuned to the inside of a bar or a small club, but Radio City’s stage was simply too big for the band. They have two LPs to their name, and while there is an undeniable charm to their quiet, fuzzed, and melancholy lo-fi, outside of the snappier hits like Jail La La, their was never enough put forward for a listener to actively grip into.
This all is to say that Dum Dum Girls, like the lollipops (of which they aren’t named after), have always been best in small, sweet doses. More importantly, if in most cases EPs, in this day and age, are simply ways to deal with excess material, Dum Dum Girls are the right ones to change this. Like a punk album, Dum Dum Girls’ material feels best when it doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s all a bit fleeting and precious, and held on a moment longer, we’d quickly start to tire. This time around, the band is treating the EP as simply a short form of expression - not the messy mix of songs that we’re so used to. As it turns out, this makes End of Daze easily the strongest piece of the band’s discography yet.
End of Daze opens with a late night, magical churning of drum and springy guitar. You could easily imagine opener Mine Tonight at the climax of a high school rom-com somewhere in the middle of prom. This, however, seems to speak poorly of the track. Though it echoes these notions, the band pulls the piece off without indulging that inherent triviality. We have a bouncing, scraping metal guitar string and dark booming drum beats. If it all wants to explode into mechanical fireworks, it’s earned it. These tracks all manage to create catchy choruses amid slick and simple verses. “I got nothing left to say from this day on,” Dee Dee sings above cracking snaps of a drum.
This sentiment speaks to the broader notion of End of Daze, something readily apparent through its consistent tones. The tracks are simple: warm in their hopeful rollicking but dark in their present. You get the impression of someone a little wide-eyed and cautiously optimistic in the middle of what they are aware isn’t some great darkness, but is certainly the real world’s twists and turns. Dee Dee turns melancholy on Lord Knows, singing through the chorus, “Oh boy, I can’t hurt you anymore.” It’s the kind of suddenly apparent knowledge that’s heartbreaking but speaks to a more important personal growth.
The EP clocks in under twenty minutes, with only one track, it’s centerpiece, being something slower. Coming off of such a rhythm, it’s a welcome piece that the album can sell. More importantly, moving on, the album closes just as strong as it opens, snappy, sharp, a little dark and washed with hope. This is how Dum Dum Girls always should have been presented. They’re in full control here, and it makes End of Daze a tight listen. There have been signs of this mixture of moody and rocking songwriting since their first LP. I didn’t think anything would come of it, and I’m glad to be proven wrong.