Dressy Bessy | Little Music (Kindercore)

Dressy Bessy’s sound will never be called “ground-breaking,” but it succeeds at its mission.

 

Spring is here; a season of sunny afternoons, blooming flowers, and fluorescent marshmallow Peeps. It’s also the perfect season for St. Louis’s young indie-music fans to wander the Loop in their thrift-store tees and dig out their most twee albums.

For the uninitiated, twee is a genre that sounds like what the name would have you expect: think early ’60s clean-cut garage rock, with heavy flourishes of Pet Sounds Beach Boys, and children’s singalong records. Twee pop is deliberately naïve, playful, and bouncy. Emo this is not.

Little Music is a collection of Dressy Bessy’s earlier music, including demos, export-only tracks, songs from compilations, 7” vinyl, and EPs. Rather than simply fill in the holes for completist fans, this CD provides an excellent introduction to the Denver band.

Dressy Bessy’s sound will never be called “ground-breaking,” but it succeeds at its mission. Fuzzy guitars build walls of sound housing a party of handclaps, tambourines, and the occasional organ. Tammy Ealom’s schoolgirl voice recalls a lost era when teenage pop stars sang about sunshine, lollipops, and innocent crushes. The love-gone-bad song “2 My Question” practically channels Lesley Gore (or would, if she weren’t still alive). Guitarist John Hill, best known for his other band Apples in Stereo, no doubt accounts for the many Brian Wilson-esque touches.

While taking notes about the songs on Little Music, I repeatedly jotted down “up-tempo and happy.” Practically all the songs are. “Lipstick” starts with a sweet Casio-style keyboard and a cheesy metronomic beat, then breaks into a riff that could easily be mistaken for “Louie Louie.” The simple but infectious “Princess” illustrates that a song need not be complex when it can be adorable. “Instead” wouldn’t seem out of place in the soundtrack to a Frankie and Annette beach movie.

If you’re seeking to thaw out your anguish this spring through musical escapism, Dressy Bessy is as sweet and fluffy as a marshmallow Peep, but probably much better for you.

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