If it’s true that everything runs in twenty-year cycles then The Bird And The Bee are jumping the 60’s-revival gun a bit on their debut album, but that’s alright because in ten years they’ll have the bragging rights to claim themselves as ‘pioneers’. What really matters though is that these two, Inara George (the bird) and Greg Kurstin (the bee), have recorded one of the finest quirky/psychedelic pop albums in years. They are Portishead filtered through an acid-trip in a late-60’s lounge. The entire album is a complete throw back and creates an atmosphere of groovy daisies, bell bottoms and free love.
The hook here is Inara’s vocals which the band not only wisely bring to the forefront, but also use as an instrument with many la’s, bop’s and other nonsensical lyrics to round out the songs. This has the benefit of making the songs instantly singable and even allows them to write a song called, “La La La”. There will be the inevitable comparisons to late-career Everything But The Girl, which are easily made; however, the difference here is mood. The Bird And The Bee sound happy even when Inara is lamenting she is a broken heart. Plus, you wouldn’t hear a French horn and other brass in an EBTG song.
However, The Bird And The Bee wouldn’t be complete without the bee. Greg’s instrumentation and choice of sounds really is the glue that keeps the songs together and the collection cohesive. Whether it’s the Zombies-like keyboards in “La La La”, the tambourine sprinkled throughout or his obvious love of the harpsichord in “Again & Again”, “My Fair Lady” and “I Hate Camera”, he creates the perfect sound to showcase Inara’s light and airy vocals.
Don’t worry though that this is nothing but a collection of songs right out of “Laugh-In”. There are plenty of modern influences to enjoy as well. The fat bass of “Preparedness” owes as much to the Human League as it does to Timbaland. “Fucking Boyfriend” lends itself easily to the club and even deservedly hit number one on the U.S. dance charts last December. And don’t forget to catch the fantastic 8-bit Nintendo-game break in “I Hate Camera”. The Bird And The Bee is the culmination of two jazz nerds playing around and having fun. That fun even shines through in the beautiful “Spark” which closes this debut. Listening to The Bird And The Bee is like slipping into go-go boots and dancing in a cage. It’s the feeling of enjoying the crowd while escaping into your own world.
Now here’s my favorite song from The Bird And The Bee for your listening pleasure — “I Hate Camera”.[audio:camera.mp3]