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Dressy Bessy

Not much good happens when East Coasters get to jammin' in the Rocky Mountain West, but don't fret: Dressy Bessy's sugar-pop could stun a Phish phan at phiphty yards. On its second full-length, this gang of Denver candy-coaters matures from popping simplistic gum bubbles to crafting complex and weighty sing-alongs. It won't hurt to don a tight sweater or tiny backpack when exploring Sound Go Round, as you follow the trail singer/guitarist Tammy Ealom has marked with Red Hots, Jawbreakers, licorice rope, and her trademark Fisher-Price fuzz pedal.

Without sacrificing Dressy Bessy's perky charm, Sound Go Round allows it to peek into a grown-up world of orchestrated, uplifting pop on the far side of funky. The pigtailed bounce of "I Saw Cinnamon" provides a two-minute precis of Ealom's little world: "I knew Cinnamon when he was just a lad/He had a house full of melody/Go thank Mom and Dad." The happy handclaps of "That's Why" and the viral chorus of "Buttercups" reveal Ealom as a studiously naive songwriter, touching on the sweetness of summers gone by. In the 35 minutes it takes for Sound Go Round to put a smile on your face, Dressy Bessy becomes a revivalist band in the best sense of the word, recapturing the vigor of '60s girl-group garage pop while fashioning it to sound far more hook-worthy.

As Dressy Bessy's music has already found safe refuge in The Powerpuff Girls and But I'm a Cheerleader soundtracks, it's wise for the band to venture beyond the familiar. Unobtrusive touches -- no emo cloud cover or junglist break beats -- indicate a new maturity tempered with optimism. These innovations don't even surface until the tenth track, "All These Colors," continued in Cinemascope on the following "Flower Jargon," still carefree but offering substantial psychedelic heft. It would be a stretch to say Dressy Bessy is approaching anything epic, but the keyboard arrangements that steal away these last two songs point to a desire to soar above the garage. Ealom will never run out of authentic whimsy, and Dressy Bessy will always have an instant-gratification, childlike appeal, but Sound Go Round shows that growing up doesn't mean going gray.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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