Highlights: (CD 1) A Better Offer, My Life As A Dog In A Pigsty, Hail The Lifeboat Man, Harry Hippie, Don’t Write A Song (CD 2) Our Ghosts, Free To Kill Again, The Hospital Run, White Noise (And Even Now), TV Unplugged
Yes, that’s a lot of highlights for an album, even if it is a double one. But this is that sort of record: sprawling and vast. I don’t expect that there are many people who have heard of The Bitter Springs, but count me happy if this review succeeds in bringing them a few new fans. First: this album is fantastic. Second: they deserve it. It may be an awful cliché, but The Bitter Springs are Britain’s best kept secret.
Everyone’s Cup Of Tea is two CD’s filled to the brim with songs of such undeniable greatness that you might as well start hating yourself for coming so late to the party.
Disc one is a near-flawless collection of whimsical, clever pop & rock tunes and lyrics that go to unbelievable heights: “I broke up with my fiancée, she caught me in bed with Beyoncé (Beyoncé was our dog’s name)…”. Mentioning all the titles is pointless, but “Hail The Lifeboat Man”, my personal favourite, is such a perfect marriage of The Fall and Britpop that I can barely make it to the end of the chorus without starting to bounce all around the place.
Disc two is a lot more downbeat and is in many ways a natural follow-up to the band’s previous album, That Sentimental Slush (with – arguably – stronger songs). The songs are long-winded but never meandering and generally need some time to sink in. “Our Ghost” is sparse and achingly pretty. “White Noise (And Even Now)” sounds like a slowed-down anthem of epic proportions. “TV Unplugged” is an acoustic reworking of side one’s “TV Tears”, and I happen to love it even more.
Clearly this is their peak as songwriters. If anything, Everyone’s Cup Of Tea sounds like an anthology of a band. Except that this is not a best-of thing. This is not a compilation. This is all new material plus a couple of recent Internet-only singles and EPs. It is physically impossible to be any more impressive and still remain this obscure. A classic, and and one of this year’s best albums so far.