Bitter Springs

The Best Bakers on the Island

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Bitter Springs sound a great deal like the fathers of JJ72 on Best Bakers on the Island. The album collects new songs, songs from EPs, and some oldies from a time when the band were known as Last Party, between 1985 and 1995. Encompassing relatively heavy-handed lyrics about deceased siblings, politics, and aging, the album has an energy that in no way betrays the band members' diminishing lifelines. Rocking out in mature Go-Betweens fashion, the band incorporates alternating wailing and somber violins, tickled pianos, a whining accordion, and exotic-sounding instruments as if in full-swing middle-age angst. The compilation nature of the album is readily apparent. While there's a general unnerved feeling to most of the songs, the stylistic differences between many of the songs makes for a somewhat disjointed listen. "Grand Pricks (Song for Guy)" sounds like the Fall, "The Outskirts" sounds a bit like an energized Tindersticks, while other songs have a late-era Kitchens of Distinction feel, somewhat appropriate since the Kitchens trifecta make an appearance on the excellent "Under the Rainbow." Best Bakers on the Island is engrossing in spurts, but the disjointed sequencing makes for a lack of cohesion. It's an album with a personality disorder, but with an attractive, fractured sheen. Though Bitter Springs aren't newcomers by any stretch, Best Bakers on the Island is a fine introduction to a band deserving of a larger audience.

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