Today’s Song: Hard Rock & Harmony in The Van T’s “Bitter Sweet”

The Van T's © Martin D. Baker
Glasglow band The Van T’s new single “Bittersweet” captures and shows off the band’s signature blend of slamming riffs, reverb, and harmonies.

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The Van T’s have been up to quite a bit in 2017. Following up on last year’s release of EP A Coming of Age, the Glasgow foursome haven’t stopped, dropping two singles in 2017. Beginning with this summer’s screaming banger “Fresh Meat,” they’ve followed up appropriately with their latest single “Bitter Sweet” (released 10/6/2017 via LAB Records).

While “Fresh Meat” with its Laura-Palmer-esque wrapped-in-plastic macabre promos and Tarantino-level-bloody video rips and tears in the most satisfying way possible, “Bitter Sweet” seems almost tame by comparison. Don’t mistake it for anything less edgy, though: “Bitter Sweet” subtly showcases the best of The Van T’s signature style. Their penchant for harmonies that blend in seamlessly with their hard-rock instrumentals take full force, in such an inviting way that the right listener will automatically want to join in and sing along, alright? Gaining them slots supporting both Wolf Alice and The Jesus & Mary Chain, the group (comprised of twin sisters Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson on vocals and guitar, with Joanne Forbes on bass and Shaun Hood on drums) tends to combine their own high energy with some of the best elements of surf rock. And nowhere is that sound better explored than in “Bitter Sweet.”

Listen: “Bitter Sweet” – The Van T’s 


Forbes’ heavy bass sets the tone for the rest of the song: even as the vocals come in and the song takes an upbeat edge, there’s that same underlying current. Which matches well with the song’s lyrics, which reflect the singer’s growing lack of interest in keeping up to an attitude that’s slowly more biting as the song approaches the chorus.

Bitter Sweet - The Van T's

Bitter Sweet – The Van T’s

Haunt me, do the best that you can
I don’t care if it decays, I can’t keep up with what you say
I put my faith in something, I really don’t think you’d understand
I don’t care if it decays, I can’t keep up with what you say
Sweet, sweet but bitter
Sweet, but you’re not clever

Throughout the song, hard harmonies and riffs coexist and mix on the edge of dangerous. With a band that can mesh the two together so easily, it’s difficult not to catch yourself singing along with equal vehemence. The Van T’s big choruses and heavy doses of slamming guitars turn “Bitter Sweet” into a breakup anthem that’s easy to rally around. Especially in the song’s very last chorus, and the stinging last lines : “Sweet, but you’re not.” Coupled with the bass-heavy reverb that sends the song out, the song’s lyrics and sense of bigness make it one that’s sure to ring in your head long after it ends.

As The Van T’s second successful single of the year, “Bitter Sweet” both satisfies and makes it hard not to want more from the group. Which just means we’ll have to turn it up as we wait for more for some of Glasglow’s finest.

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Bitter Sweet - The Van T's

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Lindsay is the Assistant Music Director at Atwood Magazine. A graduate of Westmont College, she works as a social media manager in the Los Angeles area and is a sometimes-regular contributor at Whilst Magazine. You can typically find her quoting "Napoleon Dynamite," praying for rain and writing inspiration, drinking way too much tea, singing the praises of intersectional feminism, or reading any book, ever. Give her fancy new inbox some love (or just send her a Lester Bangs quote) at: lindsay[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com.