The dead of winter is an odd time to release The Bird And The Bee's self-titled debut, a sunny, summery confection that sounds exactly like what it is—an album recorded in an airy home studio in Southern California. Vocalist Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Kurstin combine dance-floor sparkle with a jazz-influenced retro vibe to create a pop-lite treat that practically begs for commercial licensing.
The pair has already garnered interest on MySpace with the stunning album-opening single "Again & Again." (Not too surprising, since Kurstin has produced for that other MySpace wunderkind, Lily Allen). That song and the two that follow it, "Birds And The Bees" and "Fucking Boyfriend," are a one-two-three punch of cutting lyrics and bubbling keyboards. The opening tracks alone demand repeat spins, but the rest of the album lives up to the preamble. Over the course of 10 tracks, The Bird And The Bee dips in and out of sonic realms, from '60s tropicalia to straight-up R&B (on the excellent "Because"), though the jazz influence remains strong throughout—George and jazz-piano prodigy Kurstin did, after all, bond over a love of playing standards, and they signed to Blue Note.
Like a lot of the music of the boy-girl pop-duo genre, The Bird And The Bee can sometimes get overbearingly adorable, and Kurstin's unending sonic flourishes occasionally muddy up the simple pleasure of George's vocals. (Like fellow indie-popettes El Perro Del Mar and Regina Spektor, George has one of those pure, twinkling voices that the word "chanteuse" was coined to describe.) But mostly, it's a warm, cheerful distraction with enough bite to remain relevant through the summer and beyond.