Wild Belle
  • courtesy of Columbia Records
  • Wild Belle

On Saturday night the sorta-Chicago band Wild Belle returns to its sorta home after a monthlong headlining tour across the U.S. in support of its debut album, Isles (Columbia), which dropped in March, ending their slog with a gig at Metro. Siblings and coleaders Natalie and Elliot Bergman grew up in suburban Barrington, but now live in New York. I’ve long been a fan of Elliot’s Afrobeat-driven, mostly instrumental combo NOMO, and it was within that project that his partnership with his younger sister developed. She sang the occasional song with them live until his bandmates objected to the musical shift her presence augured. She stepped off the NOMO juggernaut, and began collaborating directly with Elliot toward what became Wild Belle.

I caught the band last summer and was impressed by its quasi-Caribbean pop and soul sound—which felt perfect for a summer concert in Millennium Park, where they were opening for the Eternals Espirtu Zombie project—and the album delivers a pretty good representation of what I heard. The music alternates between Jamaican grooves and old-school soul but with modern production flourishes and club-derived rhythms, with Natalie bringing her best nasal, post-Amy Winehouse delivery to hooky if unspectacular songs. Her lyrics deal with pretty ordinary romantic conflicts without a whole lot of wisdom or poetry: it’s the melodies and the cool arrangements, which shuffle acoustic and electronic beats, organ licks and synthesizer patterns, streamlined guitar riffs and electronically processed kalimba lines, which do the heavy lifting. Each time I’ve listened to the album I’ve been entertained, but this at this point Wild Belle isn’t an especially deep band, and it’s hard to imagine where they’ll go next. The again, it’s pop music—what do I expect? Below you can check out the video for the album’s most recent single, “Another Girl”—which sounds like something Black Keys might have written—one of several tunes where Natalie chides an ex-lover for either infidelity or indifference. Neither here nor there is the trouble I have hearing the line “I’m just another one of your experimentations,” which doesn’t make any grammatical sense.

YouTube video

Today’s playlist:

Symphonie Orchester de Bayerrischen Rundfunks, Musica Viva 03: Ustwolskaja, Rihm, Zimmerman (Col Legno)
Sandy Ewen, Damon Smith, Weasel Walter, Sandy Ewen, Damon Smith, Weasel Walter (UgExplode)
Steve Coleman and Five Elements, Functional Arrhythmias (Pi)
Som Imaginario, Som Imaginario (Rev-Ola)
Stefan Pasborg’s Odessa X-Tra Large, Live (Stunt)