I first became aware of The Bird and The Bee through their 2009 album Rayguns Are Not Just The Future, an enjoyable collection of dance pop songs. Much as I liked the album, I eventually forgot all about the band until I discovered their new album Recreational Love.  In my defence, the band haven’t exactly been flooding the market with product, only releasing one album, the self-explanatory Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall And John Oates in 2010. This apparent lack of activity is probably due to the fact that one of the band,    Greg Kurstin is a busy producer and keyboard player who has worked with Lily Allen, Kylie Minogue, Little Boots, Beck, The Flaming Lips and The Red Hot Chili Peppers amongst others.  The other half of the band, Inara George – daughter of legendary Little Feet guitarist Lowell George – has been busy too, releasing albums as part of The Living Sisters.

Recreational Love is George (“The Bird”) and Kurstin (“The Bee”)’s third album.  Like Rayguns Are Not Just The Future, it is clever, quirky, well-crafted pop for grownups.  Some might say that pop for grownups is an oxymoron, but Recreational Love proves otherwise.

If I say that the first track Young and Dumb made me think of Miley Cyrus, David Bowie, Shakespeare’s Sister and avant-garde pianist Keith Tippett within the first couple of minutes, that may give some indication of the playful nature of the album.  Co-written by George and Kurstin, The Bird And The Bee’s songs are primarily based around Kurstin’s keyboards and beats with George’s expressive, soulful vocals layered on top.  Title track Recreational Love is reminiscent of Hall and Oates’ AOR pop.

The duo seem to have perfected a neat trick of turning relatively sparse backing tracks – drums, bassline and a minimalist approach to keyboard bleeps and whooshes – into fully rounded productions by filling the spaces with George’s vocals.  Less becomes more.

Doctor reminds me of some of the Steely Dan-like slickness that Daft Punk achieved on Random Access Memories, George outlining a desire for a doctor/patient relationship that surely violates the Hippocratic code in a number of fundamental areas.  Final track Lovey Dovey is a lovely, summery ballad that wouldn’t have been out of place on Sarah Cracknell’s recent album of lovely summery songs.

The Bird And The Bee really should be much better known that they are.  And I really need to go back and revisit Rayguns Are Not Just The Future.  They are not going to take over the airwaves like Daft Punk did with Get Lucky but they deserve to.

John Scott

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