Weehawken, New Jersey is considered part of the New York metro area. Weehawken is inhabited by about 12,000 people, two of whom form an indie pop-rock band called Bitter's Kiss. Bitter's Kiss just released their self-titled album, populated by eight original songs.
The band's name, Bitter's Kiss, simply because its possessive in form rather than adjectival (Bitter Kiss) stimulated a little research. Apparently, the Bitter family is one of the more famous families of Weehawken. Karl Bitter was a noted sculptor. Karl's son, Francis Bitter, became a renowned physicist, developing the Bitter Plate, also called Bitter electromagnets. Thus, it's highly probable that the band's name is a reference to the Bitter clan.
Bitter's Kiss comprises Michael Baker and his daughter, Chloe Baker. Guitar, piano, bass and drums are the bailiwick of Michael, while Chloe plays guitar, piano and provides vocals. Essentially, Chloe's voice is the focal point. And fortunately, her voice is distinctive: ascetic, austere, devout with a nuance of exoticism. It's a flexible voice, one that has great potential. It will be interesting to see if she develops it or allows it to stagnate.
Chloe's voice is reminiscent of Christina Perri, which is a good thing, especially since Chloe's voice, like Perri's, is layered with tantalizing wisps of nostalgia. Chloe's voice is more unique, but Perri has the projection that accompanies maturity. And for her age, Chloe Baker's song-writing talent is impressive. 'Bitter's Kiss' contains some good stuff.
That being said, there is a problem: with one exception, all the songs are dark, exhibiting an almost peculiar exaltation of depression, sadness, discouragement and the sense of tarnish that, apparently, lies across the panorama of life. The lyrics are a cry of utter desolation. Admittedly, life isn't all fun and games, but being a Debbie Downer doesn't make it better.
As mentioned previously, there is one upbeat song on Bitter's Kiss. It's called 'Lovin' Life'. A happy song, it celebrates the good things, the magic and mystery of simply being alive. And it provides a welcome reprieve from the gloomy pessimism of the other tracks.
Generally speaking, all the tracks are good. Without a doubt, 'The Rope', which is full of dark resolves, is the best track on the album. Despite the lyrics, which are melancholic and despairing, Chloe's soulful singing breathes life into the song by means of a quality that verges on a crooning lisp. It's there but not quite discernible, except at some subconscious subterranean level. The effect is enchanting and imbues the song with significance.
Another song worth mention is 'Too Far Too Fast', a song about how rapidly life changes and how those changes dilute human relationships. In other words, 'Too Far Too Fast' is the contemporary version of the Biblical Lamentations, traditionally ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah. Of course, Chloe makes no claim to religious prophesy; in fact, there's nothing religious about the song, which is sustained by two devices: a nice melody and Chloe's amazing voice.
On the one hand, the album is an unrelenting and dark work, with little indication of ease or humor. On the other hand, Chloe's voice salvages what otherwise would be merely a collection of unremarkable dirges. Hopefully, the duo's next effort will cultivate verve and avoid that dreary aspect that pervades the present offering.
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