- Wild Belle
The deceptively simple island grooves and Jamaican upbeats can disguise Wild Belle’s dynamic compositions to a fault at times. The album’s standout single, “It’s Too Late,” is a midtempo dance-party-starter, but no other track comes close to matching its energy. “When It’s Over” is another strong effort, but it’s also the only track to feature Elliot on lead vocals, and his delivery is a little dry compared to Natalie’s sultry tones. Elliot’s blaring baritone sax is a rousing highlight throughout the album, yet somehow feels underutilized despite its presence on more than half of the tracks.
In spite of how warm and easy the songs are, they’re subtly challenging. Natalie sings about pretty dresses, boys’ lips, and other unapologetically girly things that wouldn’t be out of place on a She & Him album, but when sung over rocksteady rhythms and electric kalimba licks, the focus is drawn deeper into the form. Ultimately, Isles falls somewhere between juvenile and sophisticated, which puts it comfortably in the mystifying realm of American pop.
(published at AVclub)