When I reviewed their debut EP last year, I said that Bermuda Report easily evoked a vacation in the tropics with their jazzy tropicalia-influenced pop. For Bermuda Report’s debut full-length album, Bittersweet, the tiki bar is closed, the vacation is over and singer Abby Sawyer is unpacking her baggage—emotional baggage.
The album opens with the title track which seems to capture the mission statement for the album. “I’m bittersweet, and a little sad / I’m five-foot-two / and a little mad.”
I was surprised by the darker tone of this album compared to the EP. However, the sea change was forecasted by the Paul Kresowik-penned “Tension” from the EP which gets a slight makeover here. I think they took a bit of a risk producing a work exposing very specific raw emotion. The moodiness might not be for everyone.
Even with this recurring theme and tone of the album, I’m impressed with the dynamics of the songs. Although the band mostly favors jazzy chord changes throughout, they aren’t afraid to deliver a classic rock-inspired anthem in the standout track “Silver Dean.” Their confidence apparently bolstered by the powerhouse delivery of Sawyer which to me recalls Heart’s “Magic Man.”
It would have been easy for Bermuda Report to rest fully on their collective jazz and R&B histories. In Bittersweet we see the band reaching for something different. This change seems to have also brought about Sawyer stepping confidently forward as the identity of Bermuda Report. It’s exciting to see this first step in the development of a strong frontwoman.