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Let Me Tell You ’bout The Bird And The Bee

Topics: Music | Add A CommentBy admin | January 31, 2011

And the flower and the tree. And the Hall. And the Oates. LA pop duo The Bird And The Bee cleverly make you think they’re just hipsters when in fact they are totally awesome pop geniuses.

One of the drawbacks of being an aging punk is that a lot of the cool stuff that aging hipsters are listening to manages to pass you by. I say “aging” hipsters, because I’d have a hard time believing actual hipster hipsters would fully grasp the inter-generational pop culture genius of LA songwriting duo The Bird and the Bee. I actually heard one of their Hall & Oates covers a while back, and gave it a resounding “meh”, because there have already been so many bands like Pizzicato Five or Nouvelle Vague that did the “listen to the funny naive way we play this song from two decades ago” thing so well. But now I know that the fact that I initially blew them off was simply that I wasn’t exposed to their Hall & Oates cover in the context of their greater oeuvre. Today a friend sent me a link to the video for their tune Polite Dance Song (also below). Not only did I kind of like the pondering Scandinavian Europopiness of the tune, the dancers in the video are AWESOME. The only thing I had any complaint about was the affected hipster indifference of singer/bassist Inara George and keyboardist Greg Kurstin. But I thought to myself “no band can do a video this awesome and not actually BE pretty awesome”, so I Iistened to more, and within in hour had succumbed and picked up their 2007 debut album The Bird & The Bee, 2009′s Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future, and last year’s Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates. Although you may want to write them off as hipsters themselves, you simply can’t. They’re far too talented, and Inara George’s voice has the same kind of charm that Astrud Gilberto’s did; even when auto-tuned, it has a fragile confidence that suits the melodic wit of their songwriting perfectly. You also can’t really call someone a hipster if they really are hip, and I think The Bird and the Bee have proven they are. Partly with their own solid songwriting and performance skills, and partly with their brilliant joke that isn’t really a joke. Because in spite of Daryl Hall and John Oates’ respective “eternal mullet” and “porn-star mustache & perm” images, Hall & Oates WERE masters, and DO deserve a tribute. They’re probably amongst the most talented and definitely amongst the most overlooked songwriters of the last couple of decades. And The Bird and the Bee’s “Interpreting the Masters” mostly does them some justice, with the exception of a karaoke-like moment or two. And I think this article about John Oates’ guest appearance at one of their shows makes it clear that they have an appropriate level of respect for the hallowed pop ground they were exploring with their tribute. I look forward to seeing where they go with future releases; it would be nice to hear them stretch their wings a bit with something more “genuine”. Given the love for jazz standards that all their press material suggests brought them together in the first place, I’m sure they’ve been holding back on something in the interest of pop accessibility. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying their last few releases’ hooky, well-crafted, metahipster pop.

I think this photo sums up some of the Bird and the Bee’s total awesomeness. What could be more awesome and sexy than a pregnant woman in black and white striped spandex, sharing two of her powerful gifts of creation at the same time?

Photo by Ryan Barkan from this Brooklyn Vegan piece