Take the crack and rasp in singer-songwriter Natalie Bergman’s effortlessly cool voice, combine it with big brother Elliot Bergman’s saxophone swagger (and afrobeat affinity) and the result is a thrilling sound. Marry all their magnificent talent with their model good looks and retro style, and one may assume that they are simply the newest manufactured “it” band on the scene. Thankfully, the authentic groove the duo have crafted on their album, Isles, proves that they are undeniably the real thing.
Isles lives up to the massive buzz generated from their single “Keep You.” ( The gorgeous Kingston, Jamaica video for “Keep You” and subsequent self-titled EP debuted in 2012.) Wild Belle’s blend of Motown R&B, ska, and rock steady come together to form the perfect pop hybrid for the eclectic set found at a Santigold or M.I.A. concert one week and an Alt-J show the next.
“Keep You” and “It’s Too Late,” start the album off on a familiar note, reminding listeners why Wild Belle originally caught their attention. Isles build from there, carrying their reggae indie style forward without sounding like a disjointed attempt to replicate their successful EP.
A sexy slow wine-with-your-boo song, “Love Like This” celebrates the pleasures of real love. Layered vocals give the 60’s tinged “Another Girl” a Motown girl band sound, and sounds like Amy Winehouse covering a Duffy song. And the bouncy “Shine” is a fun modern day take on The Angels 1963, “My Boyfriend’s Back.”
While there are no big surprises on the album, there are many deceptively happy songs that open up to reveal dark undertones. Beneath the mellow groove of “June” a heartrending tale is gently spun, while “Twisted” is a jump rope song about a selfish lover. Though the duet on “When it’s Over” somehow comes out of left field, and “Take Me Away” is not particularly memorable, there are no duds.
Isles calls to mind beach parties. Warm nights drinking coconut rum in red lit rooms, the summer night breeze causing the beaded curtains to swing from your door. And Bob Marley graffiti streets in cities filled with roti shops and Thai restaurants. I’m already looking forward to what their sophomore album will sound like. Maybe a cover version of Blondie’s “The Tide Is High” is in order.
For now just lay back and enjoy this rendezvous on Wild Belle’s lush Island.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chaka V. is a writer, journalist and the creator of The Winehouse Mag.
Photo: Jennifer Tzar
© The work of Chaka V. and the Winehouse Mag, 2013-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material on this blog website, without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Chaka V. and the Winehouse Mag with appropriate, visible, and specific direction to the original content and site.