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The Bird And The Bee
Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future
Blue Note/EMI Records
www.thebirdandthebee.com


Layering modern jazz and esoteric-pop, the duo of lead vocalist Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/music programmer Greg Kurstin who form The Bird And The Bee prove that there are many shades of pop music between mainstream and indie. The pair's latest release, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, is a rich assortment of theatrical-pop riddled with cool jazz vapors and world music influences like the eastern accented chimes that tingle through "Love Letter To Japan." Inara and Kurstin take synth-pop into new realms of melodically shagged strands and ambient passages that audiences can sink into and get some fun out of.

The album opens with a theatrical organ whirl in "Fanfare" and then segues into a Lily Allen-style synth-pop netting along "My Love" and sprightly lifts and jazz-induced shimmies coursing through "Diamond Dave." Their club beats are like the UK's The Ting Tings with ambient sequences that have a cool jazz piping reminiscent of Adele and the UK's Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood fame, which spring to life in "Baby." The esoteric-shaped nuances and marching band stomps of "Phil" recall of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band while the vaudeville style keys and effects of "You're A Cad" have a '60s showtune vibe. Speaking of the '60s, "Witch" has a jazz tunage reminiscent of Shirley Bassey when she sang the title track to the James Bond flick Goldfinger. The Bird And The Bee seem to take music relics of the past and put their own stamp on them making them objects influenced by contemporary times like the melodic-pop swirls of "Birthday" recessing and soaring in elliptical patterns, and the aquatic swishing of "Ray Gun" and "Meteor" flickering with a modern-pop glint. The reggae-tinted grooves of "Polite Dance Song" and bubbly synth effects of "What's In The Middle" also add to the album's gravitational pull towards having fun.

The Bird And The Bee are all about having fun, not necessarily in the manner of The Ting Tings' party fun, but more in the realm of Lily Allen's private thoughts of having fun. Before venturing out into writing their own compositions, the Los Angeles-based duo began by playing jazz standards, hence their relationship with Blue Note Records. They write songs for their own pleasure, and it proves that one person's source of pleasure can be everyone's means of having fun.

-Susan Frances

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