From the Archives: Bettie Serveert - Attagirl
Jeremy from Fingertips joins us each month as he scours the betterPropaganda archives, highlighting gems buried a few years back in our database.
This month we bring you "Attagirl" from the Bettie Serveert.
With a charmingly slinky verse and disarmingly catchy chorus, “Attagirl” might not, still, have succeeded so well without the captivating presence of Carol van Dyk (alternatively spelled Dijk)–the Canadian-born, Netherlands-raised singer who fronts this veteran Dutch band. Rilo Kiley fans take note: Jenny Lewis may yet sound like this (she’s cut from the same cloth), but there are ineffable aspects of tone and timbre that remain out of reach when you’re only in your 20s. From start to finish we are in the hands of a comfortable and confident crew here; I like the scratchy-frenetic guitar in the background, subtly undermining the faux-bossa-nova ambiance, and of course I love that wordless “ohhh” in the bridge, alternating back and forth on a fetching fifth–the song gets expansive and smooth right there in just the right way, with layered vocals and a quivering complement of things being strummed (do I detect a mandolin, even?). This leads into a most excellent chorus, with an urgently sing-songy melody, words that sound, somehow, better as sounds–”Don’t get stuck somewhere in the middle/You’ve paid all your dues and you’re not a second fiddle”–than than they do as a sentiment, and a superb and snazzy off-the-beat finish: the way van Dyk breathes out “Attagirl” at the end is just too cool for words. “Attagirl” is the title track to the band's 2004 release on Minty Fresh Records, and helped the veteran Dutch group firmly re-establish itself in the 21st century, after its origins as a college-rock "it" band in the early '90s.
- Jeremy Schlosberg