Wild Belle are a duo made up of Chicago-based siblings Natalie and Elliot Bergman. Though they began making music together 10 years ago, Dreamland is just their sophomore album, following on from 2013’s Isles. Although Wild Belle have always presented a conglomeration of influences, their newest album hones in further on what was previously just a hint of reggae, a change perhaps inspired by them beginning their recording process in Jamaica.
The albums lead single Throw Down Your Guns is a refreshing example of this, coming complete with a bouncing rhythm and buoyant horns section. Bleak lyrics, like “I miss you so much I’d rather be dead”, are almost swallowed up by the overall vibrance of the song. Both the Bergmans also play in the afrobeat band Nomo, and the influences from this project act almost as the backbone of Dreamland, with subtle yet effective African drum patterns sitting beneath most tracks. Particularly Losing You, which is led by the propulsive groove of the drums, and complimented by little explosions of psych-tinged guitar picking.
Natalie’s vocals are equal parts soulful and ethereal, acting as a sonic representation of the albums title. Similarly, the whimsical title track takes you to a Dreamland, utopian as skeletal vocals dance around subtle injections of saxophone. On the subject of saxophone, Little Dragon-sounding Giving Up On You boasts a delicious sax solo, perfectly complimenting the songs jazz-inspired vocals. Though the slow-burning It Was You (Baby Come Back To Me) seems somewhat empty of emotion, The One That Got Away makes up for what it lacks, acting as a self-assured ‘fuck you’ to an old flame. It is also one of the albums standout tracks, with a tropical groove that could be mistaken for another Major Lazer collaboration.
Dreamland is an impressive addition to Wild Belle’s thus far slim catalogue. While the duo definitely still have their training wheels on, they carving themselves a place in the amalgamated world of fusion-dance music. Their second album has further honed in on their unique flair for genre jumping, and with a little more fine-tuning, their third album is likely to be a winner.