Kristin Kontrol represents not so much an artistic pivot as a quantum leap for Kristin “Dee Dee” Welchez, formerly of Dum Dum Girls. Where that project channeled the peppy vocal harmonies and thwacked tambourines of ’60s girl groups, Kristin Kontrol fast-forwards two decades and then blasts into the stratosphere from there. Eighties synth-pop provides the foundation for “X-Communicate,” the first single from her upcoming LP; the springy cushion of bass arpeggios, synth pads, and ringing guitars smartly borrows from Hi-NRG acts like Evelyn Thomas and Bananarama as well as sleek, wavy brooders like New Order and Pet Shop Boys. But the results are far too opulent to scan as merely retro. If “X-Communicate” were a look on “Project Runway,” it’d find Nina Garcia gushing about how expensive it sounds.
One thing remains constant: the songwriting. With Dum Dum Girls, you may have come for the fuzzy guitars and velvety reverb, but it was the songs that made you stick around, and the same goes for “X-Communicate,” which was produced by Kurt Feldman. (He and Andrew Miller split production duties on the album, says Welchez.) Its clockworks—verses, pre-chorus, chorus, bridge—waste no movement; they’re as efficient as pop gets. And Welchez’ voice, always the centerpiece of Dum Dum Girls, is, if anything, even more versatile here. One minute, she’s a plume of dry ice, and the next, a gleaming metal bird; when she sings, “Under the sheets I hide,” she pulls so much out of that drawn-out final syllable, it might as well be an exorcism.
Read more at: pitchfork.com
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