Bitter:Sweet Drama

[Quango; 2008]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: trip-hop, lounge electronica
Others: Zero 7, Goldfrapp, Lamb, Tipsy

The lack of fanfare surrounding the sophomore release from ethereal Los Angeles duo Bitter:Sweet is appalling. Their 2006 debut The Mating Game saw a return of spooky lounge trip-hop, the likes of which we haven't much seen since Tipsy's Uh-Oh in 1999 and which we still desperately long for. Drama goes a step further, moving Bitter:Sweet's sound into the future with more lush string arrangements and a wealth of organic instrumentation. The record throws down the gauntlet and builds up the dynamic duo of chanteuse Shana Halligan and Supreme Beings Of Leisure—founder Kiran Shahani to be America's response to The Gotan Project, but with more noticeable influences and Alison Goldfrapp toning down the skank and embracing her inner Beth Gibbons to take lead vocals.

It's not that the ingredients are that much different from the debut; they are simply mixed better, as Kiran's studio prowess is now undeniable. Meanwhile, Shana has found and embraced her power animal. The most Goldfrapp-like track, "Love Revolution," finds the band tipping their electronic hat, one often tipped throughout the debut. The rest of Drama sounds like a true mod classic from the late ’60s, capturing the spirit of Death By Chocolate as set against more bass and deeper lyrics. Come and experience a vaguely nostalgic realm lost out of time in a world it never made. Make no mistake, Bitter:Sweet is an emotionally resonating experience.

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