Since leaving the warm bosom of Matador after 1999’s Dust Bunnies, Bettie Serveert no doubt found themselves shunted to the “where are they now” districts of peoples’ minds. In fact, they’ve continued to turn out scrappy indie rock from their home base in Holland.
2000’s Private Suit was a surprisingly elegant and sophisticated record that proved there was more to the band than the fuzzed-out college rock sound that defined (and pigeonholed) their earlier work, while 2003’s Log 22 was more sprawling and while it suffered from a lack of focus, there were some excellent moments to be found. Their latest, Attagirl was released in Europe last Fall but has just gotten North American release via Minty Fresh.
Attagirl takes a slow-burn approach, introducing more electronic elements and loops than have been part of the Betties’ arsenal in albums past. It’s not a complete overhaul of their sound, but it is a pronounced shift in direction. The end results are mixed – while they’re certainly not a failure, they’re also not successful at playing up the band’s strengths. Not surprisingly, the strongest numbers are the more straight-up guitar tunes. The bonus tracks on the domestic edition which re-work two of the most programmed songs from the record in a more stripped-down form only serve to emphasize this point. They also help end the record on a stronger note, as the finale would have otherwise been a unnecessary and unremarkable cover of Bright Eyes’ “Lover I Don’t Have To Love”. It would have been fine as, say, a b-side, but it’s an odd choice for an album cut.
Playing a full North American tour for the first time in some number of years, Bettie Serveert are at the Horseshoe on Thursday, February 10 with Petit Project and Human Deluxe. Tickets $10.