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Bitter Tea

Rate It! Avg: 4.0 (353 ratings)
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Bitter Tea album cover
01
In My Little Thatched Hut
4:13
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02
I'm in No Mood
3:39
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03
Black-Hearted Boy
5:11
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04
Bitter Tea
5:45
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05
Teach Me Sweetheart
5:56
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06
I'm Waiting to Know You
4:01
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07
The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry
5:44
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08
Oh Sweet Words
5:25
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09
Borneo
4:17
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10
Police Sweater Blood Vow
2:53
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11
Nevers
5:02
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12
Benton Harbor Blues
7:23
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13
Whistle Rhapsody
4:20
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14
Nevers-Remix
5:14
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15
Benton Harbor
3:13
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Album Information

Total Tracks: 15   Total Length: 72:16

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Wondering Sound

Review 0

04.22.11
Weirdo pop from Brooklyn that wraps its many parts around a chewy center.
Label: Fat Possum Records

Before the release of Bitter Tea, their fifth album since 2003, Fiery Furnaces songwriter/arranger/producer/multi-instrumentalist Matthew Friedberger claimed it would be straighter and less convoluted than 2004's Blueberry Boat and 2005's Rehearsing My Choir, and he's sort of right. Which isn't to say that Bitter Tea is any less free-floating than those two discs, on which the Furnaces sealed their cult by bringing into hyperreal focus a habit of writing eight song-sections where most bands would… read more »

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user avatar

Almost good...

chordophone

...but not quite. That applies to almost every metric I can think of for judging an album of music.

user avatar

Like Dating an Insane Person, Maybe

DaveInIL

I get a headache just thinking about the one time I listened to the first track of this album three years ago.

user avatar

Like Dating

theamazingrando

There is some true, wonderful beauty to be had here, but man, do you have to work for it.

user avatar

What's wrong with a bit of Noise?

ellipses

Know I'm going to offend someone, but I feel like I've finally found a bridge from Neubauten to Of Montreal. Before my music had been feeling quite fractured.

user avatar

PaganPaulWhisky is right.

eyeH8ewe

To each his own, right? (So -- just because I question why this un-listenable noise is categorized as a form of "music" doesn't necessarily make it the irredemable crap that my ears tell my brain it is.)

user avatar

I Hate this Band

PaganPaulWhisky

How the Fieries get so much critical attention is beyond me. This band manages to insert pointless earache inducing sounds into every single song. They obviously have some talent since most of the songs contain some very catchy and interesting hooks, but unfortunately they ruin it every time. I have never ever heard such blantantly excessive use of backwards instrumentation and vocals (one of the cheesiest and gimmicky effects in music IMO). This never enhances any of the music and will make you want to bang your head on the table after you hear it for the fiftieth time. This music is a fad and the band will fade quietly away. Make sure you listen to tracks before you waste downloads on this rubbish

user avatar

whistle rhapsody minus the whistle

tangerineoclock

"Whistle rhapsody" sounds like a good idea on the sample. Sort of a T-Rex-esque "Bang a Gong" kind of tone. About half way through the song, however, this annoying screeching sound intrudes. It becomes un-listen-able. I'm 24 and supposedly fit the demographic but oww I want my left ear to stop ringing!

user avatar

Back on board the Blueberryboat

Pikg

After a couple of noteworthy albums (Blueberryboat and Gallow's Bird Bark) they released Rehearsing My Choir, which apparently got them dropped from the once great Rough Trade label. This was understandable since Rehearsing My Choir is NOT a good album. But fear not, the Friedberger siblings have dropped grandma from their line up and made yet another interesting and accomplished album --- perhaps their best to date.

user avatar

Contains At Least 3 Albums' Worth of Ideas

HechsenduchSchoenauer

Comes at you from a lot of different directions. It won't be your cup of tea (har) if you are just looking for straightforward indie rock/pop, but if you like experimentation and imagination in your music, you will like this quite a bit. If you're a bitter twit like the guy before me, you can always find something blander to ingest instead.

Recommended Albums

They Say All Music Guide

Initially intended to be the companion piece to their 2005 epic Rehearsing My Choir — aka “the grandmother album” — the Fiery Furnaces’ Bitter Tea arrived half a year later and on a new label for the band, Fat Possum (where, presumably, the Friedbergers will keep company with the Black Keys as the blues imprint’s fledgling indie rock colony). Conceived as a more youthful album of lovelorn songs to go along with Choir’s voice of maturity, Bitter Tea is slightly less complicated than its would-be companion album; in fact, it features some of the band’s catchiest songs since EP. “I’m Waiting to Know You” turns a moony, ’50s-style ballad into slow-dance synth pop, while “Police Sweater Blood Vow” is warm, playful, and even a little sexy, and as straightforward as any song with “Vibrate buzz buzz ring and beep” as part of its chorus can be. However, this is a Fiery Furnaces album, and lest things get too poppy, some of Bitter Tea’s best songs are shot through with lengthy passages of burbling synths. Both “Benton Harbor Blues,” which features gorgeous vocals, a Motown-inspired bassline, and emotional but not overly sentimental lyrics, and “Teach Me Sweetheart,” which could easily be a yearning power ballad along the lines of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” in the hands of a more commercially minded band, both feel like thwarted pop singles.
Of course, part of the Fiery Furnaces’ appeal from the beginning has been the way they screw with what could be very simple, almost ditty-like songs. However, on Bitter Tea the ways that they mess with their music aren’t always as intriguing or memorable as what the songs could’ve been like if they were eccentric yet concise in the way that, say, Gallowsbird’s Bark was. At times, the album feels oddly diluted, neither as strikingly experimental as Blueberry Boat or Rehearsing My Choir, nor as brilliantly catchy as their debut. And at 72 minutes, Bitter Tea is too long; the stories that it tells just aren’t big enough to fill up all that space. Still this is a Fiery Furnaces album, and even if all the songs aren’t uniformly great, there’s something interesting about each of them: “I’m in No Mood” sounds a little like a fractured version of “Flight of the Bumblebee” performed by a haywire player piano; “Oh Sweet Woods” moves from a thumping dance beat to flowing acoustic guitars, then nods to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”; and, with its Asian-inspired melody, “Bitter Tea” itself is one of the more rambling, suite-like songs that works. Bitter Tea does indeed work well as a companion piece to Rehearsing My Choir, as well. The refrain of “once upon a time” in “Nevers” mirrors Choir’s “Remember Then?,” and “The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry” is a spooky, cryptic recitation of places and addresses along the lines of “Seven Silver Curses.” Meanwhile, the backward vocals and instrumentation that make up one of Bitter Tea’s main motifs could convey looking back on youth or rewinding time — or they could be there just because they sound really trippy. Anyone who enjoyed having their brains and ears rearranged by Blueberry Boat and Rehearsing My Choir should find Bitter Tea enjoyable, but at this point, it seems like the most challenging thing the Fiery Furnaces could do is trust their pop instincts a little more often. – Heather Phares

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