Monday, January 12, 2009

The Bird and the Bee - Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future

The Bird and the Bee, the Los Angeles based duo of Inara George and Greg Kurstin, has a new album coming. It’s called "Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future" and it’s due on January 27th. I’ve already listened to it quite a few times, and though the commonly held belief is that a band’s sophomore release is usually a lesser effort than their first I believe this album breaks the mould and shows a significant improvement in lyric writing and arrangement.

Like the first album, Ray Guns is a perfect record, full of sugary pop that has been drizzled with ‘60s Brazilian nuances, and little touches of Bacharach, Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys and Dusty Springfield. Then this heady and infectious concoction is melded into modern electronic genres like house and hip-hop. If you’re a fan of AIR, Pizzicato Five or Thievery Corporation, then this record will really grab you.

In fact, if you were charmed by Gwen Stefani’s dalliances with Japanese youth culture on her Love.Angel.Music.Baby. album, or the aforementioned AIR’s “Cherry Blossom Girl”or “Mer Du Japon” then “Love Letter To Japan” will resonate with you positively. If all that wasn’t enough, the sterling craftsmanship of multi-instrumentalist Kurstin fills the whole record with beautiful and uplifting choruses that whirl around the stereo field, and your head…for days.

Stand out tracks? Wow, the record is full of them; “Polite Dance Song,” has the most life affirming hook and message about music (and in the music) and its groove effortlessly glides over rolling funk drums and oscillating, glassy keys. While “You’re A Cold,” reflects on a bad boyfriend who is still indispensable while honkey tonk tinged piano conspires with playful electronics and sassy, girlish and clever lyrics.

There are eleven more tracks of similar quality, which display moods that swing between elation, melancholic regret and wide-eyed amazement. If you have given up on pop music then "Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future" might put your faith back in the idiom again. Why? Because Greg Kurstin’s arrangements are so solid and infectious and Inara George’s vocals are velvety, varied, soulful, playful and timeless. Simply put this album is awesome. Keep an ear cocked and an eye peeled.


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