The Risk – Bitter Sweet (on Niche)

Update: The Niche website has now been taken down, scroll down the page to read the full review

My latest review for Niche Channel Islands’ arts showcase is now online taking a look at the latest re-issue from Guernsey’s mod-rock/powerpop veterans The Risk.

This is the fourth in a series of re-issues that has so far also included Mark One, Loud Shirts and Strips and Invitation To The Blues all through Paisley Archive and I believe there may be one more to come bringing together a selection of one offs and rarities from the band.

Anyway click the image below to head over to Niche and read my review:

The Risk - Bitter Sweet screen grab

Completing Paisley Archive’s set of CD reissues of The Risk’s original run of albums from the 1980s comes Bitter Sweet, the third official album by the trio of Guernseymen who reached as far afield as gigs in California and have a dedicated (to this day) following around the world, despite the best efforts of Simon Cowell.

The first thing that struck me about Bitter Sweet, the album which the band cite as their favourite of their records, is that it is a much more consistent album than both their official debut Loud Shirts and Stripes and sophomore effort Invitation To The Blues.

This more unified sound lands more in the power-pop genre, while their previous albums had spanned sounds from mod to punk to rock ‘n’ roll. This consistency, combined with the best production job on their work up to this point, from Tim Bran, creates what is certainly their most technically accomplished record.

Amongst the 10 tracks on offer there are a few which really stand out and a couple which remain a part of their live show to this day. Kicking off with State Of The Union the album starts off strong with Good Together acting as a central high and disc closer Dancing With A Stranger presenting a song that acts as a microcosm of the whole record in terms of the band advancing both their songwriting and sound and demonstrating the more advanced production work on offer.

All this said, for me, Bitter Sweet seemed to be lacking something on Invitation To The Blues in that it lost part of the unrestrained sense I’ve always got from the band live where you’re never sure what might come next.

On Invitation… the band jump from genre-to-genre and mood-to-mood, all while remaining clearly The Risk, where as here the more consistent approach does lose something of this, which I thought a shame.

What Bitter Sweet does do though is clearly demonstrate the sound of a band growing up and, knowing what was to come next, it seems clear how The Risk were coming to the end of their first run together before expanding in other directions, some of which are still going on today.

What the release of Bitter Sweet also does is make the band’s entire back catalogue now available on CD (completed by Songs From The Big Tomato available through Twist Records) so going into their ongoing gigs the songs are more familiar and it makes it clear why this band have gained the reputation they have.

I guess the question that comes to mind now all of The Risk’s albums are available is “when do we get the Sacred Hearts reissues?”

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