The L.A. duo of Shana Halligan and Kiran Shahani made a splash in 2006 with their debut, The Mating Game. After following it up last year with a record of remixes, The Remix Game, they now deliver some all-new material on Drama. The ‘Swinging Sixties cool’ vibe is still very present amid the twenty-first century electronic trance, but there’s also a prewar cabaret nightclub atmosphere, which at times lifts Bitter:Sweet to new heights.
After the ten-second “Intro Dramatico”, Drama launches into one of its best tracks, “Get What I Want”. This grand, femme fatale, cabaret orchestra is knowing and enchanting. Unfortunately, the following “Come Along With Me” is a little too grand, its changes too stark. Luckily, the changes on the subsequent “The Bomb” work much better amid the more fun time at the nightclub. Winning in its charm, its no surprise that NBC picked it as the theme song for their ‘Sex & The City – but with Brooke Shields’, Lipstick Jungle.
From there, Bitter:Sweet change things up more and more, to mostly strong results. The title track is more jazz club than nightclub, certainly more dramatic, but interesting. “Sugar Mama” is a cute, twinkling raindrops amid the sunshine sixties ditty. “Trouble” is a 007-esque spy drama track, and while not quite as great as promised, is still good. There are some slips, with the more relaxed “A Moment” slightly off amid all the Drama, but it’s really when Bitter:Sweet go disco-dance that they slide, as the wa-wa of “Waking Up” and dance-trance of “Love Revolution” are neither amazing. The record finishes out with the quiet orchestra strings-and-piano coda, “Everything”, but not before returning to its grand femme roots with “Neurosis”, which is then exceeded by the grand-yet-intimate nightclub experience of the very effective penultimate piece, “Drink You Sober”.
Western North America has seen something of a revival in recent years of the ‘grande dame’ nightclub style, from Dallas’ St. Vincent (QRO spotlight on) to Vancouver’s Ann Vriend (QRO album review), and Bitter:Sweet have certainly tapped into that on Drama. Lipstick Jungle was renewed by NBC this spring, despite low ratings (and the cancellation of ABC’s nearly identical Cashmere Mafia), proving the staying power of Brooke Shields (how else do you explain four seasons of Suddenly Susan?…). That, or someone in the programming department just knows you need some Bitter:Sweet with your Drama.
MP3 Stream: "The Bomb"
– Anna Vesely