Even the most loyal fans of the Dutch indie rockers Bettie Serveert would be forgiven for thinking that the band's fire might have dimmed somewhat after over 20 years together as a band. Prepare to be surprised when you put on the first track of their 2013 album Oh, Mayhem! On "Shake-Her," Carol van Dijk and Peter Visser's guitars sound like twin charges of dynamite, van Dijk practically spits out the vocals, and the rhythm section pounds along with little or no restraint, and they sound like a bunch of 19-year-olds instead of the indie lifers they undoubtedly are. The entire album is packed with similarly fiery, heart-twisting rockers that have a rousing power guaranteed to shake lose any cobwebs. Just try staying sedentary during pummeling tracks like "Sad Dog" or "Tuf Skin" that are filled with guitar freakouts, passionate van Dijk vocals, and huge hooks. It's not easy. Oh, Mayhem! contains a couple of surprises too. The best is "Had2BYou" -- possibly the hookiest, most radio-ready pop song they've ever crafted; bouncing along like a choice New Pornographers track with one of van Dijk's breeziest, sweetest vocals. "LoserTrack" is another as it's a nice chunk of nostalgia for the band's classic song "Tomboy," borrowing the loping beat, the loud/quiet dynamic, and some charmingly lazy vocals, and adding some majestic guitar playing. On the slightly negative side, the weird, almost a cappella track "Monogamous" is a surprise that nearly drags the album to a halt right in the middle. It's a mild comedown after the impressive first half of the record, but the band comes right back with one of its best tracks, the rampaging "Receiver." Bettie Serveert will never reach the same level of popularity they had when they first started out, and Oh, Mayhem! won't make anyone forget Palomine, but it is an amazingly strong album that shows they have plenty of life left in them. And truth be told, this isn’t really that far off from Palomine.
Oh, Mayhem! Review
by Tim Sendra