Like that friend who is always cheerful without being annoying -- or, God forbid, perky -- Dressy Bessy does pop with enough edge and subversiveness to infect even the most cynical among us. And while a cynic might say it's a little soon for a greatest-hits disc from this Denver-based band with only two full-lengths, one EP and a couple of seven-inch records under its collective belt, Little Music is a worthwhile collection of hard-to-find tracks that illustrate what a fully formed unit the band was right from the get-go. The collection draws from various sources that are not widely available: The song "Lipstick," for example, was previously found only on the Japanese version of Pink Hearts, Yellow Moons, and a number of songs featured solely on compilations and splits appear here as well.
The songs on Little Music are uniformly well executed and sharp, suggesting that the members of Dressy Bessy knew all along what they wanted to accomplish, what sound they were aiming for and the type of songs they wanted to write. Some tracks, particularly the clean-sounding demo version of "Tidy," are so sharp they could have appeared on any album as is.
The band's skill at perfectly blending its fuzz-tone guitars with a mid-'60s Archies vibe and Tammy Ealom's happy-girl vocals was largely on track even in 1997. But there are some important distinctions between the past and present. Three songs from the band's first seven-inch, Ultra Vivid Color, lean toward distortion rather than sweetness (the title track, "Fuzzy," and "Said You Would"). "Live to Tell All," pulled from a 2000 Kindercore seven-inch split, is a lively stomp straight out of the go-go-booted '60s with an edge that's slightly dirtier than that found in most Dressy Bessy songs. It's like when Adam West's Batman started wigging out and doing the Batusi.
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Largely a gift to the already converted, Little Songs is a big treat for those who enjoy tracing the pop trajectory of bands on their way up -- refining art while staking a claim for indie music that matters. (See www.dressybessy.com.)