Tammy Ealom’s had her proverbial cheeks pinched by so many critics lately that calling her thrift-store style and retro sunshine pop “cute” seems cruel. But by naming her band after a doll, Dressy Bessy’s brainchild asked for it. And on the Denver group’s third full-length, there’s more adorable where that came from. Anchored by ultra-bouncy rhythms, the album finds six-string slinger John Hill (also of Apples in Stereo) reeling in his share of distorto-guitar mini-solos and chunky hooks. But it’s Ealom’s buoyant sing-along lyricism that really steer the boat toward sweetness.
Not the ironic sweetness we expect from frontwomen like Liz Phair, whose X-rated content contradicts her innocent delivery. At her naughtiest Ealom’s a vintage princess who swigs whiskey (“BlinkTwice”), where the blowjob queen prefers a saltier substance. Sharply recorded in a real New York studio instead of Tammy’s apartment, Dressy Bessy forgoes the 4-track homemadeness that marks both its predecessors and Little Music, a recent comp of early seven-inches and demos. Singing about a shoe shine in “Baby Six String,” Ealom offers a double-entendre defense of her indie integrity: “If it’s uncool to be polished, baby I don’t wanna talk.” Talk on, Tammy.