After going MIA for almost a decade, Bobby Sutliff returns with a spiffy new album of prime jangle pop. Sutliff did the bulk of his music-making in the 1980s releasing several albums under his own name (viz Another Jangly Mess, Only Ghosts Remain) and with partner Tim Lee as the Windbreakers (viz Terminal, At Home With Bobby & Tim and Electric Landlady).

Bitter Fruit is rough in parts (Sutliff is noticeably straining to hit the high notes) but the guitar work is outstanding. No complaints vis-à-vis the songwriting department as Sutliff more than proves that he can still deliver the goods where it matters.

Sutliff’s main strength lies in his ability to evoke the pioneering folk-rock spirit of the classic Byrds line-up. Songs like Warning Bells, One Way Ticket, Griffin Bay, Pushed, No More, Sorry If and Bitter Fruit will certainly make the listener do a double-take on those excellent Rickenbecker 12-stringed arpeggios and those uncanny Clark-Crosby-Hillman-McGuinn harmonies. Even better are the numbers that channel the rough and ready magic of Buffalo Springfield, with the spectral Change the Way (a even ghostlier version is featured as the unlisted 15th track) reminiscent of Neil Young’s contributions and the hyper kinetic Fall nailing the analogues perfectly. Add to these fine examples the Forever Changes era Love tribute You Don’t Have To Go and the ELO inspired epic piano ballad Days of Summer (which naturally includes sublime Beatlesque touches).

Rough at the edges, these homemade demos (often with the assistance of ace producer Mitch Easter) cannot hide the obvious talents that Sutliff no doubt still possesses in abundance. Pop fans can only hope that more from Sutliff are in the offing. B+