Love and the pursuit of love is a great, constant journey for many but it’s never pain free. In addition to joy, there is also frustration and suffering that we experience when it comes to attempting to attain such deeply desired human bonds and relationships. Music serves as a primary vehicle in which these thoughts and feelings manifest themselves, and as an outlet where we are able to cope with those feelings, however simple or complex they may be. So it’s no wonder that musicians and listeners alike are drawn towards expressing themselves through love songs.
Chicago, sibling duo Wild Belle, whether they know it or not, have in my opinion given love songs a new lease on life with their debut album, Isles. They draw from very romantically inclined rocksteady/r&b roots (an indirect throwback to classic genre artists such as Alton Ellis, Delroy Wilson, etc. submerges through their sound) and it serves as a perfect mixer with their subtle, indie dream-pop spin on things. Light electro-dub hints sprinkled throughout the album lend a diverse helping hand without becoming overbearing or losing consistency. Ideas of love—the good, the bad and the ugly (with a tendency toward the latter), begin to be explored lyrically and while the surface of that is just beginning to get scratched, singer, Natalie Bergman’s sultry, slightly raspy, Amy Winehouse-esque vocals pair perfectly. I fully expect their sophomore effort will delve deeper but this breezy debut is the perfect jump-start into figuring out how love makes us tick. Again, love is never pain free folks and all we have is the music to help us deal.
Three Words to Describe Isles: Romantic notions unleashed.
This Album Would Go Well With: A breakup. A bromance. A girl crush.
“Shine” – If it’s out with the old and in with the new on the relationship front (or creepy, clingy guy front), this song’s for you. “What did I tell you, bout leaving me letters, on the door when I’m not home, I don’t love ya, don’t make it much better, when you’re acting like a child, What is this, Valentine’s day, I don’t think so, just a kiss, that’s all you’re asking but I don’t want to.” Not to mention, this song’s got it goin’ on with sweet saxophone quips, twinkling keys, funky bass and layered beats, plus Natalie’s ooo ooo hoos and catchy chorus line “I’ve got a lover, he puts the shine in the sun.” – moving on and starting fresh never felt so satisfying.
“Backslider” – a woozy, gorgeous, kalimba-fueled electro dub love affair, although the lyrics are less than positively loving. “My babe, guess he could stand a little cheating, because his heart is made of stone and now I ain’t got tears to cry, I’m leaving, even in your arms, I’m alone.”
“Another Girl” – Brooding, hand-clap accompanied, soul crackling goodness. Even if your man/woman doesn’t treat you right, Wild Belle will.
“When It’s Over” – Elliot takes over the primary singing responsibilities and schools us the way our mommas might when it comes to love, “He’s no good for you, I told you so.” Not only is it a nice way to mix things up, but also his vocals are just as alluring and entrancing as Natalie’s and their harmonies send me drifting away on a cloud.
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Click here to check out our photo gallery and show review of Wild Belle’s show at the Echo last November!
Album Review: Emily Saex