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Bitter Springs

Bitter Springs is one of the great secrets of British pop music, with a history stretching back to 1986, though for the first decade they were known as the Last Party. In their current incarnation, the outstanding quintet has issued five LPs, a B-sides and rarities collection, and six singles on a variety of little labels, continuing to hone a distinctive and compelling style of loose-limbed, erudite pub-rock that betrays an obvious affection for the fierce and wonderful folk-flavored rock of The Pogues and Black 47, and perhaps also the harsh post-punk polemics of The Fall. Often employing wryly cheerful flutes, accordions, violins, and pianos, Bitter Springs creates riotous, driving jigs that sometimes sound as if they'd be well-suited for a carnival or fair. At other times their sound loses its folky glee, steering more towards stark, dissonant post-punk. As with The Pogues, it's easy to get swept up in Bitter Springs' energy and overlook their lyrics, but they're often quite astute and eloquent meditations on matters both personal and political.

Bitter Springs' terrific 2001 EP, Stop the World, is their second release on the Madrid label Acuarela. It comes on the heels of their 2000 collection Best Bakers on the Island, which anthologized their B-sides and rarities, some of which dated back to the Last Party days.

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