Bitter Tea

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Bitter Tea
Bitter Tea (Front Cover).png
Studio album by The Fiery Furnaces
Released April 18, 2006
Recorded 2005
Length 72:23
Label Fat Possum (US)
Rough Trade (UK)
Producer Matthew Friedberger
The Fiery Furnaces chronology
Rehearsing My Choir
Bitter Tea
Widow City

Bitter Tea is the fifth full-length album by The Fiery Furnaces, released on April 18, 2006 via Fat Possum in the U.S and Rough Trade in the UK. After it leaked onto the internet on February 22, the band immediately started selling the CD on tour.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "In My Little Thatched Hut" – 4:13
  2. "I'm in No Mood" – 3:39
  3. "Black-Hearted Boy" – 5:11
  4. "Bitter Tea" – 5:45
  5. "Teach Me Sweetheart" – 5:56
  6. "I'm Waiting to Know You" – 4:01
  7. "The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry" – 5:44
  8. "Oh Sweet Woods" – 5:25
  9. "Borneo" – 4:17
  10. "Police Sweater Blood Vow" – 2:53
  11. "Nevers" – 5:02
  12. "Benton Harbor Blues" – 7:23
  13. "Whistle Rhapsody" – 4:20
  14. "Nevers (Reprise)" (unlisted) – 5:14
  15. "Benton Harbor Blues (Reprise)" (unlisted) – 3:13


The album contains several instances of backmasking throughout.

Song title Time of backmasking Backwards lyrics Comments
"In My Little Thatched Hut" 2:59 "Tears of joy, tears of joy, tears of joy, tears of joy..."
"I'm in No Mood" 2:10 "And the pin in my hair was stuck in my head. I didn’t undress for bed. I was so drunk last night." "I swear the pin in my hair got stuck in my head. I didn't even undress for bed. I was so drunk last night."
"Black-hearted Boy" 2:56-3:56 "See the smoke from your kiln, pine boughs burn the bricks dead hard in their fog as I stand cold with my back broke by the bog. Find your cross-cut saw, come blunt and jagged dry and try cut my tongue out to keep on your wall up high. I tipped my toe on the bamboo strip; I took stone honey in exchange for my rags. Don't dare paint your board moonlight white. Go dangle your fish hook out in the gutter again."
"The Vietnamese Telephone Ministry" Entire song, end to beginning "I thought myself an unworthy thing, despairing of my case all the time boys. I thought myself an unworthy thing, despairing of my case all the time boys. Damn it all, damn it all to hell. Damn it all, damn it all." Much of the vocal sounds backwards when played forward.
"Oh Sweet Woods" 0:44 and 3:01 "Oh sweet woods of delight, Oh solitariness. Farewell direction, farewell all affection."
"Nevers" See comments The vocals switch between backwards and forwards even within one line of lyrics. Full lyrics are available at the Fiery Furnaces' official site [1]
"Benton Harbor Blues" 3:45 See comments The backmasked parts are gibberish phrases played backward and forward simultaneously, so it sounds the same when played backwards and forwards.

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars [1]
The A.V. Club B [2]
Blender 3/5 stars [3]
Pitchfork Media 7.6/10 stars [4]
PopMatters 7/10 stars [5]
Tiny Mix Tapes 4/5 stars [6]

Bitter Tea received generally positive reviews that were less polarized than their previous two proper albums, Blueberry Boat and Rehearsing My Choir. At Pitchfork Media, Mark Richardson praised the "sweet, undeniable melody" of "Teach Me Sweetheart" and the poppy likeability of "Benton Harbor Blues."[4] Heather Phares at Allmusic criticized the album for being too long and "oddly diluted," but admitted that "even if all the songs aren't uniformly great, there's something interesting about each of them."[1]