Bettie Serveert

Private Suit

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Bettie Serveert's classic 1992 debut Palomine was ultimately a bit too perfect -- the band effectively left themselves no margin for error, and subsequent efforts had nowhere to go but down, each record doomed to suffer by comparison. Private Suit, Bettie Serveert's fourth studio outing, is a considerable return to form in the sense that so many years later, both artist and listener alike finally understand that what's past is past -- when Carol van Dijk wails "So don't worry about me/'cause you can't please everyone" on the disc's bewitching title track, it's clear that the group is finally back to making music solely on their own terms; and ironically enough, Private Suit comes closer to recapturing the brilliance of Palomine than any other Bettie Serveert record, by implicitly acknowledging that a return to former glories is an unreachable ideal. Credit much of the album's dusky allure to the atmospheric production of John Parish, which lends a shadowy beauty, revealing new layers of subtlety lurking underneath the band's ragged guitar-pop approach; the focal point is still van Dijk's searing vocals, which harness the extremes of both pride and desperation to devastating effect. Welcome back.

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