“How many times did it pass you by?”
Dutch alternative band Bettie Serveert (“Bettie Serves” in English) asks this question during the refrain of its single “Deny All.” The question could be relevant to the group. It has gotten along well, releasing nine albums since 1992, including the 2010 record “Pharmacy of Love,” but it has never had enormous success on U.S. airwaves. If any song from its catalogue should change that, it is “Deny All.”
The pace of the song is rapid, but front woman Carol van Dyk’s alluring vocals are easy on the ears. The subject is a common one: taking control of one’s life and seizing the day. As van Dyk says, “Grab it by the throat, grab it while you can.” The message might come across as clichéd in the music world, but the kicker is that the addressee doesn’t take van Dyk’s message to heart, as evidenced by the line “Deny all,” which is repeated multiple times in a negative response to von Dyk’s advice.
The pace of the accompanying music adds to the urgency of the message. Van Dyk and Peter Visser open the song with a punk-style riff and drummer Gino Geudens keeps pace with a simple yet upbeat tempo. The guitars drop off 15 seconds into the song, leaving just Geudens and bassist Herman Bunskoeke to accompany van Dyk for the verse. Bunskoeke plays a solo bass line that slows the song down just enough so that when the guitars reenter at the refrain, it seems all the more rapid. Visser’s “solo” following the refrain, a repeating of the same high note, might seem overly simplistic but it stays in uniform with the song.
Bettie Serveert has done its time as an opening act, but with a track like “Deny All,” it’s tough to deny the band’s potential for mainstream success.