Before even starting this review, I have to admit that I’m a The Bird And The Bee newbie. Although I’ve heard the name floating about (no pun intended, but laughter is appreciated) and I’ve occasionally heard their hypnotic sound drift through my sister’s walls, Inara George’s and Greg Kurstin’s jazz-electropop project has never surfaced in my music experience. Indeed, I was surprised to discover they’d actually been active since 2006, and I knew a few of their songs but without knowing their faces. But, after progressive boredom with my current playlists, I attempted to add something different to the mix and, voilà - these guys sure look interesting. That’s definitely an adjective to describe them – interesting.
Honestly, I was apprehensive to start – when someone refers to a genre as “dream-pop”, I think of an elated world that one must experience under substances they probably should not be taking. But the initial thought when listening to the opening track Young And Dumb was “Ooh, groovy!” It’s dance-y and quirky, with George’s seemingly effortless high range, and also a little sassy. With its catchiness and a really cool piano riff as the record peaks, my head was firmly bopping and I felt a gem that had been missing from my ears had been gained. Will You Dance? affirmed this – I hate using the term, but it was funky. George and Kurstin had created a feel-good, enjoyable record, with chilled vocals that didn’t feel forced and belt-y, making it relaxing to listen to. Expert craftsmanship can be observed through Kurstin as well; the layering of harmonies by George and different levels of music reinforce the quality of a well-produced album as a whole.
Yet, by track number four, Runaway, the sound was getting a little bit too repetitive. A pattern within each song was emerging – the repeating of lyrics, some layering of vocals and music, and ultimately it was getting boring. It’s never a good sign when you start to look at how many seconds of a song is left before the next one, and I regretfully say that this was the case. Don’t get me wrong; I really wanted to like the album. Please Take Me Home had a promising start; the stripped back nature to the verse giving the track gravity leading to (I expected) a climax. Alas, this never happened – the chorus was weak and wishy-washy. There were elements of each track that gave potential for an interesting feature, such as the snazzy saxophone solo on Doctor and Runaway showcasing a rare low register from George, but this wasn’t enough to keep me interested. There wasn’t any build and honestly, it all sounded very much the same.
Nonetheless, We’re Coming To You was a standout for me. Finally, after reaching the next to last song on the album, I felt emotive towards a song. George encapsulated the feeling of desperation and helplessness through the rise and fall of the track – adding drums to the chorus, creating emphasis, and living up to the weight built up within the verse. So, unlike the same-y, background music that the other tracks merged into, this caught my attention, and was singularly added to my playlist.
But I can’t go away without describing the confusion I felt by the closing song, Lovey Dovey. Yes, there were very pretty high notes which captured the essence of being “lovey dovey”, but in truth, this track was just plain weird. It lacked direction, and was self-indulgent as George rifted around, and was a little uncomfortable. It reminded me of walking past old ladies in the park as they sing to themselves and think of the days they’ve lost - just strange. I was frowning a little as I was left with the end-of-listening silence and my own pondering. And Jenny? I can see that Kurstin has worked with the likes of Lily Allen, as this song reminds me a little of Allen’s Alfie, but this track is very erratic and very annoying. George sounds whiny, and although this is probably my own taste, it’s painful to listen too. I guess it had potential to be quite enjoyable, but for me – no.
Recreational Love is a mellow record to listen too, and is lovely when you want something playing on a nice summer’s day. It is well produced, has some catchy lyrics and a few songs really excelled. Still, in its entirety, the album doesn’t take any risks, which is a shame; there is opportunity to push some tracks to brilliance. Despite this, this is a cute little listen, if you want something to pass the time.