Bettie Serveert Log 22

The first release from Bettie Serveert in three years begins with great promise. The opening tracks offer a boisterous return to form, and yet incorporate some of the refined elements of 2000’s Private Suit. The scope of their ambition is very clear: from the delightfully dizzy "Smack” to the buoyant "Not Coming Down.” Front-woman Carol Van Dyk’s voice gets more versatile and gorgeous with every recording, and here she pushes herself in directions she hasn’t gone before. Ultimately however, the over-the-top production of (co-writer and founding member) Peter Visser does not serve the Betties well. He seemingly includes every great idea they had during recording, and leaves listeners with the feeling they just ate an entire chocolate cake. It’s increasingly cloying and claustrophobic, and too much to sustain for a full 60 minutes. And while Bettie-heads know to expect a few head-scratching lyrics, lines such as "I caught you when your spring collapsed” and "like tonguing candy out your molars” tip the absurdity scale even by their standards. It’s hugely disappointing, because under all the meta-production there are some real gems buried here. (PIAS)