Ordinary birds and bees make babies. A lesser known fact is that when a bitingly witty bird gets stung by a more experienced bee, the union results in an interestingly eclectic debut album that defies categorisation.
The Bird And The Bee are a Californian duo consisting of vocalist Inara George (daughter of Little Feat frontman Lowell George) and producer/multifarious instrumentalist Greg Kurstin (who has worked with the likes of Beck, Lily Allen and Peaches). The casual labelling of their music as �jazz� does not do justice to their unconventional debut, which also draws influences from pop, electronica, dance, hip hop and bossa nova.
The duo has already garnered considerable internet buzz (sorry, I couldn�t resist) with the infectious album opener Again & Again. Despite this reviewer�s philosophical objections towards the overuse of lyrical repetition as a memory jogging device, there is no denying that this track burrows into your brain and signs a damn lease (think Over And Over).
Debut single F_cking boyfriend is another unabashed pop gem which truly showcases George�s ethereal vocals, as well as the pair�s inclination towards its brand of ironic duality. In true Californian fashion, the attractive packaging belies all inner ugliness. Similarly, with every sunny, shimmering melodic arrangement on this album, there is a sassy, cynical lyrical retort. On the charming, dream sequence-esque La La La, George delivers her frosty wit with nonchalant perfection (“A pretty idiot is kissing/Everyone she doesn’t know/And the pigs are eating popcorn/Selling tickets to the show”).
For all the ’60s and bossa nova influences, the duo are astute enough to infuse enough modernity into their music to prevent them from sounding like Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz knockoffs. From stripped down RnB on the eclectic Because to nervy electronic beats akin to The Postal Service on Preparedness, the ambitious fusion of styles employed in parts of this album is undeniable.
However, certain moments veer dangerously close to generic martini lounge background music. I�m A Broken Heart and Spark lack the memorable incisiveness of the more uptempo numbers on the album. Thankfully, they are salvaged in part by George�s celestial vocals. Easily mistakable for contemporary chanteuses Feist and Regina Spektor, George glides through each track with the enviable effortlessness definitive of her peers.
One needs to query whether a beautiful voice will suffice, given the influx of throat-singing female vocalists post Imogen Heap. However, Kurstin�s savvy production on tracks such as the skittering I Hate Camera serves its purpose of accentuating George�s voice without ever overshadowing it.
Notwithstanding the occasional background music tendencies, The Bird And The Bee is a solid debut which will undoubtedly attract most connoisseurs of intelligent pop. Just be forewarned that listening to this bitingly breezy album will make the winter feel bleaker than ever.