Record review: Wild Belle – Isles (2013, LP)

Siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman may have been born and bred in Chicago, but their debut album carries an altogether more Caribbean flavour. Trying to pin down their sound is a challenge in itself, as the eclectic duo bounce between reggae, ska, psych-rock, pop, and funk with apparent ease, but the overall feel of this album is one of palm trees, coconuts, sun, and smooth summer-y grooves. Elliot’s sleek baritone sax on ‘Keep You’ goes a long way towards making the instrument cool again, and his sister’s sultry approach to lyrics like “Tell me what the matter is little man, I got a pretty face and I wear a nice dress, why can’t I keep you?” makes for one hell of a mellow break-up track, which ultimately proved enough to generate a frenzy of industry interest in the band and prompt the inking of a deal with Sony Music. Natalie is an engaging singer and has an impressive range; most notably on second track, the funky ‘It’s Too Late’, as her brother tinkles with toy keyboards and synths. The self-produced Isles will keep you guessing as one curve ball after another is flung at your ears; from the funk-pop of ‘Shine’, reggae-tinged ‘Twisted’, and the excellent ‘When It’s Over’, on which brother Bergman proves he’s an equally as competent vocalist as his front-woman sister. Wild Belle’s music is tailor-made for a midsummer festival, so hopefully it won’t be long until they visit these shores. In the mean time, enjoy the sublime Isles. (Sony Music)

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