It is interesting to discover how different spinoff projects can be from the original group. Sometimes the new project isn't dramatically different, but gives a musician a chance to do it their way. In other cases, the new project reveals a surprisingly different take on pop music. SISU, the band formed by Dum Dum Girls' drummer Sandy Vu is an excellent example of the latter. On the recently released Blood Tears, Vu, a talented multi-instrumentalist, weaves a captivating tapestry of Gothic dream pop and synthwave. The album is a adept blend of contrasts. Vocal harmonies have a soft touch over the often bass-heavy arrangements. Soft sounds contrast with loud sounds. Dreamy arrangements are slashed by a Siouxsie Sioux-style vocal abrasion. Ultimately, it is dream pop for people whose dreams are a bit tortured, perhaps more echoing The Cure more than Slowdive.
On Blood Tears demonstrates the key characteristics to making it apart from Dum Dum Girls. First, Vu is a good vocalist and songwriter. Second, she has assembled a band that helped her turn those songs into something distinctive and enjoyable. Third, she is an able frontwoman. This album is a delight from start to finish, and I recommend it.
SISU, which is the Finnish word for extreme perseverance, is undeniably Sandra Vu's. For Blood Tears, she wrote the record, played instruments, sang and produced. Additional musicians were Ryan Wood, Nathanael Keefer and Lars Stalfors. Fellow Dum Dum Girls member Julianna Medeiros joins the band for live shows.
Blood Tears is out now on Mono Prism Records. The label is a relatively new collective for artists in various media.