more than Sugarcubes II

Magic Box (Lava)

Bel Canto

By Kory Wilcoxson

It would be easy upon first listen to dismiss Bel Canto as another offbeat Scandinavian pseudo-dance band a la the Sugarcubes, but closer inspection reveals Bel Canto have their own identity.

The band mixes live instruments and programmed tracks, but goes beyond the run-of-the-mill club music. The brain trust of the band -- singer Anneli Drecker and do-it-all musician Nils Johansen -- find ways to mix pure pop hooks with their electronic foundations, creating songs that are both danceable and listenable.

Another bonus is Drecker's voice. She moves from a breathy Tori Amos on "In Zenith" to saucy chanteuse on "Rumour" and "Bombay." Her sound is fresh and keeps Bel Canto's music from becoming just something to dance to.