The Bird and the Bee’s Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future
already has a humming buzz ahead of its January 2009 release. Having had their music pimped on numerous soundtracks and TV shows, the duo of Greg Kurstin (Geggy Tah) and Inara George have swung for the fences with an album that moves them well ahead of their jazz-oriented impetus. The whole thing has an unmistakable sound, even as it explores trip-hop, retro-pop, indie, and electronic realms.
Fans who remember Kurstin’s criminally ignored Action Figure Party project will recognize and appreciate his airtight production, which isn’t as far removed from that project’s funk as you’d expect – see “Polite Dance Song,” with it’s bumping drums and sparse melodic movement, and the spookily symphonic “Witch” – and listeners who fawn for indie darlings like Feist will immediately fall for George’s dreamy, versatile voice. The songs straddle the lines between jazzy trip-hop, indie quirk and electronic psychedelia, with an endless range of sounds that materialize throughout and lyrics like “I want an empty head/I want to go to bed/For a long long long time.” Particular success is found when Kurtin utilizes George’s perfect pitch to supply backing vocals, brilliantly incorporating her breathy “ooo’s” and “la la la’s” and the like.
Kurstin’s cascading sheets of sound give every track the potential to open the listener’s mind. Snap-popping snares punctuate each song, giving the ear a pronounced rhythm to rest upon and soak up all the cosmic goodness that emenates from his synths. Hand claps and human choruses are utilized on more than one track, keeping the electronic mayhem firmly under control of human emotion, which revelas itself more and more in songs like the campy “You’re A Cad” and “Baby,” which features an R&B-style spoken proclamation. For all the aural possibilities explored, Kurstin manages not to overwhelm George’s relaxed vocals, which are equally at home on indie-pop masterpieces like “What’s In the Middle” and “Ray Gun” along with swirling electro-retro gems like “Diamond Dave” and the dance-ready “Love Letter to Japan.” I’d guess that this one is not going to be wanting for attention, as it has something for everyone contained within its memorable hooks, prolific production, and delightful stockroom of sounds.