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

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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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