AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Write this name down: Wild Belle.
So far, the
Wild Belle didn't have a prime slot Friday, stepping on stage at Antone's just as many conferencegoers were elsewhere finishing up their after-dinner drinks. Still, a substantial crowd had gathered, and the Chicago brother-sister duo of Elliot and Natalie Bergman did not disappoint.
The Bergmans (joined by a guitarist, bassist and drummer) makes deceptively breezy sounding pop music, drawing on elements of Jamaican rock-steady, U.K. trip-hop and atmospheric balladry. Clipped guitars play off Elliot Bergman's keyboards, and drums feed a steady stream of syncopated rhythm. The music arrives with a light, danceable touch that would seem to suit almost any setting.
Natalie Bergman was born in 1989, but she comports herself with the poise and knowing calm of a more experienced singer, playing with words and inflections, giving a sly, even sinister twist to seemingly innocuous questions ("Didn't I treat you right?") and unassuming assertions ("I'm just another girl"). No, she's most definitely not just another girl, and she gives the music a charismatic focus. Facile comparisons have been made to the sultriness of Lana Del Rey, but there are more dimensions at work in Wild Belle: a sassiness, wit, subtlety and confidence that I don't hear in Del Rey's music.
Also on Friday,
THEESatisfaction, a spinoff of Seattle hip-hop group