Welchez's latest album and first under the new name, X-Communicate, isn't a far cry from the melodies she wrote for Dum Dum Girls. She's still one cool cat, just trading one decade's sounds for another. It's not hard to hear why she felt these songs weren't meant for DDG, though; the production by Kurt Feldman (Ice Choir) and regular collaborator Andrew Miller is geared to help emphasize Welchez's voice like never before.
As the calm and cool Dee Dee, it always felt like there was a cap on the emotions Welchez could express though the music, but that limit seems lifted on X-Communicate. She reaches her full pop star potential on the title track, recalling Kylie Minogue as she emotes strongly in the chorus over arpeggiating synths. "Skin Shed," which packs big beats and loud guitars, is more in line with the early '90s indie house of Saint Etienne. And on both "Face 2 Face" and "Smoke Rings," she channels her inner Siouxsie Sioux, as the production slinks along to her hypnotic voice.
X-Communicate is all about Welchez allowing herself room to grow as a multifarious artist who has the drive, determination and talent to pull off anything she sets her mind to. Whether she'll ever return to Dum Dum Girls remains to be seen, but as Kristin Kontrol, she's offering an exciting artistic refresh that Dum Dum fans should get on board with.
The frustrating part is, it’s not even as if Kristin has a specific problem she could work on, since they all seem to be missing something different, with other pop tools like the saxophones on ‘Show Me’ and the guitars on tracks like ‘White Street’ and ‘Face 2 Face’ seemingly deployed because they are things that great pop songs have. ‘Show Me’ and ‘Drive the Night’ stay at the same level for the whole song, with little to no dynamic variation, while songs such as ‘X-Communicate’ have dynamic variation but also an earnestness about their lyrics that lack sincerity or indeed coherence. ‘Face 2 Face’ and ‘Going Thru the Motions’ make sense, but are far too slow and a bit too clumsy to be dancey pop hits. Not every song has to be upbeat, of course, but they just don’t quite pick you up into having fun.