Bettie Serveert Private Suit (Palomine)

Private Suit (Palomine)

Record Reviews

Bettie Serveert

Private Suit (Palomine)

That Bettie Serveert masqueraded as the Velvet Underground and Nico on the I Shot Andy Warhol soundtrack and released a live album of VU covers (Venus In Furs) means the recurring resemblance is intentionally coincidental. Like many bands on the Continent, particularly Northern European bands, Bettie Serveert are single-minded about their Western influences, and that's not necessarily bad. They've tempered the Velvet touch with Sebadoh covers and often meander off into their own low-key jangle pop without being self-conscious. On this fourth studio recording, the Dutch foursome has changed drummers, but maintains a restrained continuity with their influences. Because Carol van Dyk's voice is as limited in range but just as moody as Nico's, the VU comparisons are inescapable, from the sweet siren song of "Auf Wiedersehen" ("Sunday Morning") to "Mariachi Souls" ("I'll Be Your Mirror") and the aptly named "ReCall," which moves over to the Beatles' "Dear Prudence." That's proof enough Bettie Serveert doesn't need a VU matrix to make respectable and listenable music, but then Van Dyke's lilting alto finds a comfortable groove in "John Darmy," "Healer," and the title track, as clean and smooth as the cover shot of her back. And maybe that's what keeps Private Suit from being as definitive as it could be: Without that VU frame, they sound like Portishead on the nod even when songs like "My Fallen Words" make it obvious that when Bettie Serveert reaches for the stars, they can make a little heaven.

***

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