The Bitter Tears’ Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse gets off to a rousing start with “Slay the Heart of the Earth,” a rocking shuffle that shows their promise. It deploys all the weapons in their arsenal–two singers and a bevy of instruments played by a tight band. I bet it’s a blast live.
The rest of the album, unfortunately, demonstrates the band’s key weakness–poor songwriting. “Inbred Kings” is typical. It has verses, but no bridge or chorus, unless the horns after each verse count as a chorus. There are several songs just like it, and it gets monotonous pretty quickly.
Throw in a demerit for a song that rhymes “girl” and “world,” and another for vocals that sometimes sound like the satanic bastard child of the guy from Cake and the guy from Wall of Voodoo in full-on “Mexican Radio” mode, and it’s clear we have a problem.
This is too bad, because the Bitter Tears have an interesting and engaging sound that has some real potential. They’ve got the instrumental chops. If they develop the songwriting chops to match, they could be a band to watch.
You can hear and download “Slay the Heart of the Earth” here. I encourage you to do so. It’s the one song I’ll be keeping from Jam Tarts in the Jakehouse.
Here is a promotional video that demonstrates both how good and how irritating this band can be.
Despite panning their album, I wouldn’t mind checking the Bitter Tears out live. I suspect it might work better that way.