So this is a really weird promo that came to us. Bitter's Kiss is the project of a teenage girl from New Jersey. Weehauken to be specific. I wasn’t sure where that was, so i had to look it up. Apparently this girl grew up at the other end of the Lincoln Tunnel...
Her name is Chloe Baker and she wants to be a pop star, and she is working for it. She has a nice voice. No, she has a really good voice -- hints of Regina Spektor and Dawn Landes. It's a rich voice, a hint of natural reverb that belies the very young face she shows on FaceBook.
But i have to admit that i feel kind of dirty listening to this and reviewing it. There is something unclean about our society’s obsession with teenage girl pop singers. It has something to do with the notion of "virginal purity", and that just makes me uncomfortable.
But M.s Baker's collaborator on this album is her father, Michael Baker. So this is kind of a family release, which makes it a little less creepy. And Michael Baker is very professional, adding in drums, guitar, bass, piano, all while producing this work. I would guess, offhand, that he is some kind of session musician. The album is really professionally done.
Chloe sings and writes the songs. Which brings us to the awkward scanning of the band name -- Bitter's Kiss. This was written by a teenage girl. The name makes sense to her, i guess, although it just confuses me. And as i listen to the album, some of the lyrics are a little cheesy and seem weird to me. My (deadhead) girlfriend's daughter is not quite a teenage girl, but i can already see that there is some difference in logic and world view that my Y-chromosome and 4+ decades will not allow me to see through. Is Chloe Baker's lyricism a good representation of the Teen Girl Experience? I dunno. I am not the target audience for that.
But there are some really great tunes here. The Bakers do a wonderful job of crafting interesting pop tunes.
On Waste of It All, the guitar echoes as the whole thing builds to a soaring climax with horns layered in and Chloe wailing away. She shows the power of her voice really well here.
Lovin' Life burbles like a mid-1980s synth pop tune. Synth bass rumbles and little electro sounds pop and bubble on top. It swings nicely, but at one point Chloe says "damned", which makes me want to yell at her to watch her mouth! Kids these days, swearing in synthpop tunes! What would Vince Clarke think?
There is some darkness in the record too.
No One Will is a catchy tune with some nice acoustic guitar and strings. But Chloe sings "I don't mind watching couples hold hands / I hope they're happy because they won't be in the end", and then she sings about always being alone. It's kinda pessimistic for someone so young. Then again, when i was her age, i though Morrissey was deep and the only one who talked about "real life"...
Then there is The Rope, which is a gorgeous song, Michel Baker's orchestration really lovely as his daughter sings about suicide. It's a little too dark.
But in general, this is pretty. Michael Baker is really good and makes great tunes, and his daughter has a great voice. Sure, the lyrics are a little odd to me, but whatever.
The only real downside is that, after listening to an album of pretty songs composed by a teenage girl i feel the desperate urge to prove that i have not softened too much in my old age, dammit! I have to follow listening to this with playing Slayer or Black Flag on my headphones as loud as i can! I'm still hardcore dammit!
But this is a pretty record, and i wish the Bakers luck in pursuing their pop career.