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Attagirl

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Album Review

Bettie Serveert's 2003 effort Log 22 was a hailed as a comeback for the Dutch combo, a return to their 1992 indie rock masterpiece Palomine. But as 2004's Attagirl quickly makes clear, Bettie principals Carol van Dyk, Peter Visser, and Herman Bunskoeke are more about reinvention than reminiscing. Opener "Dreamaniacs" fades in on a flicker of manipulated sound, the guitars clean, and (live) percussion stuttering like something off of Everything but the Girl's Walking Wounded. Vocally, van Dyk is her usual self — pleading, and wondering about life, but also set in her ways and a little jaded. "I don't need your dumb direction/Thank you," she sings, adding a lingering "please...." But where once there may have been a peel of Peter Visser distortion, there's now a lush pop chorus tinged with processed strings. "Versace" goes even further, exploring mature dance-pop with van Dyk as an echoing mirrorball diva. Of course, there are flashes of vintage Bettie Serveert in "1 Off Deal" and the slashing, Sebadoh-ish guitar work of "Hands Off." "Don't Touch That Dial!" will please longtime fans, too, with its Velvet Underground rhythm and great raw production. But it's the exciting, quirkily paced material that's the most fun, since it helps the band leave the indie rock tag behind in favor of something, well, more adult. "Greyhound Song" has Visser's guitar tangling like a wayward slinky through sitar loops and a swirling synthesizer figure, and the title track's smart electronic/analog hybridism showcases van Dyk with its sashaying bridge and intricate vocal layers. "Lover I Don't Have to Love" is probably the most adult thing here; interestingly it's also a cover, Bright Eyes' gripping first-person account of a premeditated one-night stand. [U.S. editions of Attagirl included two bonus cuts, acoustic versions of "Dreamaniacs" and the title track.]

Biography

Formed: 1990 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although they didn't cross over into the mainstream the way some of their peers did, Holland's Bettie Serveert became significant college radio stars during the '90s with their jangly, sweetly melodic, at times surprisingly muscular guitar pop. The band's sound was familiar, even archetypal, yet with its own distinct flavor that suggested any number of reference points and made exact comparisons elusive. Much of Bettie Serveert's reputation rested on their 1992 debut, Palomine, and even though critical...
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Attagirl, Bettie Serveert
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