Combining reggae, indie, electronic and classical music sounds a lot like a task for a confused DJ with the ambitious endeavour of pleasing every age group at a wedding (with little hope of success), but Chicago duo Wild Belle prove it to be doable on Isles. Their debut record for Sony/Columbia plucks you out of your winter stupor, with dreamy synthesizers and unassuming sax solos that ground almost every song and provide a translucent cover-up of darker subject matter, like betrayal, loss and the complexities of a relationship. Crooning over the disc’s rich production is vocalist Natalie Bergman, whose sultry stylings adapt to tortured realizations of infidelity (“Another Girl”) and even dance over ascending bass lines on the inviting “It’s Too Late”.
The inventive instrumentation of her other half however, is what makes Wild Belle so eccentric. Throughout Isles, Elliot Bergman shyly adds reverb, discordant piano chords and rickety percussion to reserved lyricism and pushes a few boundaries to the point that you truly don’t believe he or Natalie call the state of Illinois home. You’d hate to overlook simplicity but the melodies pushed forward by the duo do develop the habit of blending in with too much familiarity, even with songs that flicker with Tuff Gong vibes (“Love Like This”) and broody tones (“Happy Home”). Fortunately, if you’re looking for an easy listen and a cheap vacation, Wild Belle most certainly offer a one-way ticket.
Listen: “Another Girl”, “Twisted”, “Backslider” || Watch: Wild Belle – “Keep You”