's songwriting began to blossom on Throwing Muses
' Real Ramona
, and Belly
's debut, Star
, is where it reaches fruition. Using the trancy harmonies of dream pop as a foundation, Donelly
expands the genre's boundaries, trimming away its pretensions and incorporating a flair for sweet, concise pop hooks and folk-rock inflections. She also spikes her airy melodies with disarmingly disturbing lyrics. Images of betrayal and death float throughout the album, but what hits home initially -- and what stays after the album is finished -- are the hooks, whether it's the rolling singalong of "Gepetto," the surging "Slow Dog," the melancholy "Stay," or the cool, detached sexiness of "Feed the Tree." Occasionally, Donelly
suffers from preciousness or unformed ideas, yet Star
remains an enchanting debut.