The Bird and the Bee | Recreational Love (Rostrum)

bird-and-bee 75It’s the songwriting and execution of the material here that makes it a sweet set of summertime jams.




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On their 2010 release Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, The Bird and the Bee vocalist Inara George and her multi-instrumentalist cohort Greg Kurstin pulled off a joyful miracle of pop alchemy. Taking the revered Hall & Oates songbook and filtering it through their minimalist glitter-sweet perspective, they managed to craft a sonic cotton candy masterpiece out of the famous duo’s mellow gold.

Now, five years later, The Bird and the Bee have released their latest album, Recreational Love, and the time spent with The Private Eyes has helped kick their game up a few notches. Their first album of original music since 2009’s Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future may feature the general formula they’ve been exploring since their inception, but it’s the songwriting and execution of the material here that makes it a sweet set of summertime jams.

The first single from the album, “Will You Dance,” is a breezy and carefree dance tune, with a video featuring Patton Oswald and The Big Bang Theory’s Simon Helberg partying in a restroom-turned-disco. It’s not as random as you might think, and as big a delight as the song itself.

In the Scritti-Politti inspired “Runaway,” George sings some of her most inspired and kooky lyrics: “I know I’m ambitious/But you’re so delicious/I wish every day was Sadie Hawkins day.” The great Green Gartside would have fit right in as a duet partner.

Key-master Kurstin is responsible for the expanded sound palette here, and his work with Sia, Lykke Li, and Charli XCX has brought some welcome surprises. The tracks “Young and Dumb” and “Los Angeles” in particular reveal new treats with every listen, and the stripped-down music continues to be the perfect foil for George’s dreamtime delivery.

Another welcome step into new territory is the sultry and sexy “Please Take Me Home,” where George goes full-on torch singer, as Kurstin lays down an ambient groove of bubbling arpeggios. Even when The Bird and the Bee put the pedal to the metal, as in the Tom Tom Club-tinged “Jenny,” there’s a sense of the ethereal meeting the euphoric, and the results are almost always irresistible. | Jim Ousley

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