Wild Belle- Isles- Columbia

Natalie and Elliot Bergman sound cool and confident on their debut

Feb 27, 2013 at 12:00 am

All bets are off once that saxophone comes in, blurting its brassy funk under the smoky vocal coo of Natalie (Belle) Bergman. Recorded out west in Benton Harbor, the Bergmans (Elliot mans the keys and guitar) sound so cool and confident on their debut that it feels more like a third or even fourth album. To say “electro-soul” wouldn’t do this Chicago-based duo justice, though. By the second track they’re already bouncing to a reggae-ish rhythm while sprinkling in Atari-like synth noises from some long-lost, half-cheesy new wave recipe. Isles is predominantly an effervescent saunter-in-the-sunshine type of record, squirming with ear-worm choruses, sweetened by Natalie’s syrupy lullabies. Rich arrangements, complex sample loops, purring organs, kicking drum machines and doses of that welcome saxophone keep their three-minute trips charming and often danceable. —Jeff Milo