Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bettie Serveert

  • Palomine [Matador, 1992] **
  • Kid's Alright [Matador, 1993] Neither
  • Lamprey [Matador, 1995] Neither
  • Dust Bunnies [Matador, 1997] **
  • Private Suit [Import, 2000] A-
  • Log 22 [Palomine, 2003] A-
  • Attagirl [Palomine/Minty Fresh, 2005] B+
  • Pharmacy of Love [Second Motion, 2010] ***
  • Oh, Mayhem! [Second Motion, 2013] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Palomine [Matador, 1992]
by the time the tunes grow on you, you'll be wondering why the songs never get where they're going ("Brain-Tag," "Palomine") **

Kid's Alright [Matador, 1993] Neither

Lamprey [Matador, 1995] Neither

Dust Bunnies [Matador, 1997]
simpler, cuter, sexier, and, need I add, less hep ("Geek," "Sugar the Pill," "Heaven") **

Private Suit [Import, 2000]
Crisply songful after years of feedback and drone, it's Carol Van Dyk-not-Dijk and her backup band. About time, too--not because there's anything wrong with feedback or drone, but because neither should preclude songs when you proffer yourself as a pensive woman who takes the occasional Tylenol and deserves someone she can love back. "Unsound" is their most clearly irresistible ever, and the aural nimbi that surround or trail after the others never obscure Van Dyk's lines of thought. A-

Log 22 [Palomine, 2003]
A bigger and looser band than the one that made its name with Palomine in alt's salad days--brawnier, brainier, sweeter, more direct. But where once they were the future, now they're near forgotten, because what for their admirers was a game, a phase, or a fleeting passion, for Carol Van Dyk is a life. Alt's college cheerleaders have matured. Van Dyk's just gotten older, embracing soul and skill but not the mainstream: "Smack in the middle of ridiculous places, smack in the middle where I shouldn't have been." Of course, part of their gimmick was how alt they weren't. They've always gravitated toward straightforward tunes and guitar voicings, which is why horns that would obtrude in any ordinary alt-fledged band seem natural horning in here. So please, somebody make me feel stupid and tell me what '60s solo they quote outright on the eight-minute "White Dogs" jam. It's driving me crazy. A-

Attagirl [Palomine/Minty Fresh, 2005]
Down on my luck in Amsterdam, I'd want Carol van Dyk for an aunt, or a second cousin, or a friend's ex-wife, or something more. Back on my feet, I'd remember her fondly for the rest of my life. But we'd lose touch. And before too long I'd find it impossible to recall the details of the album we used to play at breakfast. B+

Pharmacy of Love [Second Motion, 2010]
The more she wonders how to voice her confusion, the louder the band fills the vacuum ("Mossie ['Previously Unreleased' by Moss]," "Souls Travel"). ***

Oh, Mayhem! [Second Motion, 2013]
One of our finer big-guitar bands--and without a hint of macho, including the "ironic" kind in which cred-hungry young horndogs camouflage their ignorance of history ("Mayhem," "D.I.Y.") ***

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