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Belly

Sire/Reprise

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In the two years since its debut, Belly has picked up a permanent bass player, played a few hundred shows, and evolved from a Tanya Donnelly solo project into a cohesive band. The group’s new-found confidence makes King a solid sophomore effort. The quartet enlisted pedigreed producer Glyn Johns (Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin) to keep things sounding lively and raw, and he seems to have earned his keep. Though King lacks radio-friendly hits like “Feed the Tree” and “Gepetto,” solid rockers “Super-Connected,” “Red,” and “Now They’ll Sleep” propel the disc, keeping the band’s moodier material from bogging it down. Singer/guitarist Donnelly shares songwriting credit with new bassist Gail Greenwood and guitarist Tom Gorman, which serves to keep her self-indulgent quirkiness in check. She still manages to throw a few yodels and hiccups in among her painterly lyrics and ambitious melodies, but King‘s democratic sensibility keeps the disc pleasantly grounded.