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WPGM Recommends: Wild Belle – Dreamland (Album Review)

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Brother and sister duo: Elliot and Natalie Bergman, more commonly known as the American band: Wild Belle, had their first proper introduction to many when they featured on the Major Lazer album and have since established themselves in the music industry.

Their debut album Isleswas released in 2013 and now they’re back with their eagerly anticipated follow up album: Dreamland, released just over a week ago. The band’s sound is extremely diverse on this album as the pair collaborated with a variety of different producers, whilst working in different studios.

The most notable of these is the talented Doc McKinney who has previously worked with The Weeknd, as well as The Black Key’s Pat Carney and Dave Sitek from TV on the Radio, who featured on the song “Giving Up On You“, which was pre-released last September.

The pre-release of the album’s lead single gave fans a delightful taster of what the siblings have been working on for the past three years. Taking influence from the late David Bowie and Annie Lennox, Natalie’s vocals take on a completely new tone and sound, that on first listen, creates an intrigue as to who the guest artist might be.

She has said that the new style scared her and she felt it was a big risk but it was definitely a risk worth taking. The new deeper and more soulful vocal style over the cool, rapid bass line played by Sitek is so exciting. It makes the track so catchy and stand out. It’s the kind of song that you’ll find yourself dancing to when you’re alone.

Many of the songs on the album were born during a long Chicago winter, whilst Natalie was going through the break-up of her long term relationship. For many, music can be very beneficial in times of pain and pain can be very beneficial to the music. For the artist it is a way of releasing their emotions and making sense of them, which often results in a masterpiece that is so powerful and raw and real.

Throw Down Your Guns” for me, is that masterpiece. Unusually and in many ways thankfully, the song is not a distraught, slow ballad, but rather an upbeat poppy number. It makes it a really easy listen and more importantly, it makes it really easy to listen to the lyrics which are the genius in this song. The combination of the literal and the metaphorical is so clever, drawing the similarities between war and heartache like the pain it causes and the desperation to surrender.

As you would except from an album influenced by heartbreak, “It Was You” is a slower, ballad type song. The vocals are very long and legato, and full of melismas, as well as being high in pitch, making it sound angelic or even potentially slightly ghostly. The percussion is slow and gentle and is teamed with piano chords; a classic combination.

Another song worth mentioning is “The One That Got Away”; one of the album’s most relatable tracks, as a lot of people will either feel like they are or they have one that got away. This track is confident and sassy, with the gorgeous and playful saxophone melody and the dotted rhythms from the percussion.

Wild Belle are known for their psychedelic sounding music. They infuse this with a variety of different styles such as jazz, dance and reggae to create an undefinable new style of music. Dreamland fits much more into the pop genre that Isles did, but is in no way conventional.

It is a definite reflection of three years of growth from the band. The song writing and the lyricism from Natalie is much cleverer and more mature, whilst the instrumentation is so diverse, creating a much edgier and fuller sound. Wild Belle’s Dreamland is out now via Sony Music, purchase it on iTunes here.

Words by Emma Exelby

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