In Simon Rivers‘ weary world, bitterness springs eternal. His sleevenotes read, “I’ve failed in everything I’ve done or so says the [I]NME.”[/I] And The Bitter Springs‘ third album finds him, as ever, wrestling with interior voices whispering of defeat.
Sex is fumbling and inept ([I]”Like the dawn, I’ll come too soon”[/I]), love is unpleasant ([I]”From what I’ve learned about affection/I hope that there’s a hell”[/I]), and age is laced with cruel irony ([I]”As I am getting older/I find less hearts to break”[/I]). Yet this catalogue of despair is bound with dark and blistering humour.
Absurdity abounds. Vic Godard babbles in French, producer Mike Coe reads the credits aloud at the end, and there’s a burlesque bonus track featuring a screaming lunatic. Musically, ‘Benny…’ is both playful and chilling – ghostly Theremin underlines Rivers’ Jarvis Cocker whisper in ‘The Ballad Of Stubby Little Fingers’, an accordion wheezes through ‘A Christmas No 1’, and throughout, the Springs’ trundling guitar melodies prove as beautiful as they are exasperated.
Wise enough to recognise that the worst things in life are often actually pretty hilarious, Rivers has turned his own miserabilism on its head. In ‘No Sects Please We’re British’, he proclaims, [I]”I’ve failed in everything I’ve done, but now I will succeed”. [/I]So, says the [I]NME[/I]: