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CD Review: Bettie Serveert

Pharmacy of Love (Second Motion)

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Bettie Serveert recently re-established their relevance with the placement of a pair of nearly two decade-old tracks ("Palomine" and "Leg") on TV's Cold Case. With the release of their first album in four years. The giddily effervescent Pharmacy of Love's fist-pumping dynamics and indie-pop classicism are quite surprising: Bands aren't supposed to sound this vital 20 years past their launch date, but clearly no one told them. Pharmacy of Love bolts out of the gate with "Deny All." Singer-guitarist Carol van Dyk combines the shivering cool and blistering heat of Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde, and guitarist Peter Visser manipulates the tension between sweet pop melodicism and scorching rock riff-mongering. That combination is even more pronounced in "Semaphore," which sounds like a 1979 Blondie outtake. "Love Lee," "Souls Travel" and the album's thunderously glammy finale, "What They Call Love," are sinewy, exultant pop gems that would shine brightly in the Pretenders' crown. Credit should also go to founding bassist Herman Bunskoeke and guest drummer Joppe Molenaar, who comprise a frenetic rhythm section that propels Van Dyk and Visser's wildly energetic mood swings. Pharmacy of Love is a bold reaffirmation of Bettie Serveert's past and an indication that the Dutch foursome has plenty more left in the tank. — Brian Baker

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