For Belly's second album, King, Tanya Donelly has focused her lyrics and turbocharged her pop instincts; the result is a delectable and emotional song cycle whose dark underpinnings clash thrillingly with her cascading melodies and Glyn Johns's dense production. In Donelly's songs, twisted and sometimes menacing themes--with their hints of predatory lovers, familial dysfunction, and generational anomie--fall over one another; her characters, accordingly, are somewhat overstimulated, their impressions tumbling out in a multidimensional torrent ("I'm your faith / I'm your faithhealer / I'm your faithless companion"). Mysterious phrases ("Stand like you did when I was beauty-marked in your eyes," "And when you breathe / You breathe for two") arc up and out, demanding concentration and respect. Uniting the record is the title track, whose rippling time changes and dark currents ("Little bird / I won't prey on you") are ultimately overwhelmed by a climactic coda ("Baby I can't take it / I'd like to see you naked") and her bristling band's massive attack. Superchunk and Cold Water Flat open. Friday, 7 PM, Riviera Theatre, 4746 N. Racine; 275-6800 or 559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Stephen DiRado.