Bitter Springs

That Sentimental Slush

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Operating almost entirely under the radar even of those who take a strong interest in the state of the British indie scene, the Bitter Springs have been releasing sporadic albums and singles since the mid-'90s. The double-album-length That Sentimental Slush (18 songs in just under 70 minutes) is entirely typical of the band's output, showing both their strengths and weaknesses. Foremost among the latter is the band's lack of identifiable personality: some songs show a vague country influence, others recall the ultra-twee early days of Belle & Sebastian, and a few have the shambling, Neil Young-influenced feel of the BMX Bandits. Furthermore, leader Simon J. Rivers most often sings in a slightly flat, affectless baritone that strongly reminds the listener of Stephin Merritt, and he has a similarly wry sense of humor and an eye for romantic futility. That it's so easy to come up with specific reference points for That Sentimental Slush is evidence that Bitter Springs have, after a full decade, still not quite developed their own sound. So for all the pleasant little strummy indie pop tunes, That Sentimental Slush remains frustratingly uninspiring.

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