Where the Dum Dum Girls' debut album I Will Be was an accomplished addition to the world of fuzzy, sugar-driven surf rock, their sophomore effort, released now, just over 18 months later, is a clear step up for the Californian all-female four-piece, and showcases the effortless vocal talents of band leader Dee Dee (Kirsten Gundred).
Where I Will Be was about a slightly more hazy, grungy set of tracks that washed over certain moods without ever getting terribly concerned with anything more than youthful dreams, Only In Dreams is a collection of truly potent pop songs.
Their strident melodies, coupled with still-cool slightly ironic girl-group harmonies and catchy hand clap rhythms nod to influences like The Ronettes and The Bangles, but this time around the lyrical material has taken on a more mature angle, addressing matters close to home.
Gundred's mother was diagnosed with what turned out to be a fatal illness during songwriting, and she wrote touching album closer Hold Your Hand immediately after hearing this news. It's one of several songs that trace her mum's passing, and there's a sense of gravity to the album, but the songs are a celebratory tribute rather than grief-stricken.
On other tracks, like frenetic opener Always Looking, she's declaring her love for her husband, Crocodiles musician Brandon Welchez, missing him while their touring schedules keep them apart. And Coming Down is a sublime Mazzy Star-style anthem which almost compels the listener to sway with eyes half closed in nostalgia-tinged euphoria.
Verdict: Potent pop songs from Californian surf-rock girl group
Buy the album here.