Review Summary: The Bird and the Bee combine Zero 7 and Lily Allen, with mixed results, on their Blue Note Records debut.
The birds and the bees is a timeless tale that almost every child hears a form of at least once in his or her life. The story tells, in a not so subtle method, the way in which babies are made. The actual conversation that follows tends to be one of the most awkward moments in the average life, both for child and parent. While my parents never actually went as far as to use the metaphors, I remember the discussion, which took place in my garage of all places, vividly. Listening to The Bird and the Bee, on the other hand, is a far less uncomfortable experience. The duo, who are signed to legendary Jazz label Blue Note, is made up of multi-instrumentalist Greg Kustin, an active producer who has worked with every body from Beck to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Lily Allen, and vocalist Inara George.
Considering the two started out playing Jazz standards and are signed to a famous Jazz label, it is almost a given that a strong Jazz influence drives The Bird and the Bee’s self titled debut. But, while there is definite influence, The Bird and the Bee
is a much more eclectic record than that: the album mixes elements of Indie-Pop and Electronica in with traces of Hip-Hop. And despite all these diversities, The Bird and the Bee succeed in creating one very original sound, instead of a record that plays more like a mix tape.
The album begins with its first single, the ridiculously hooky Again and Again
. The song is driven by electric piano, a mainstay throughout the entire album, and a fairly cheery acoustic guitar. To say the least, it isn’t a surprise that Again and Again leads off the album/is the first single. The verses alone, which feature heavy use of tambourine and are sung quite well by George, are catchy enough to warrant heavy MTV rotation. Like much of the album, the lyrics are far from poetic but even further from clichéd and/or boring, which is more than can be said about many other Pop records. The Bird and the Bee’s electronica aspects show through a bit more obviously on tracks Fucking Boyfriend
. Combing jazzy Pianos, and a simple yet highly danceable beat, the track would make a superb single, except for its expletive ridden, yet mega catchy, chorus.
is easily the most Electronica/Hip Hop influenced song on the album. Relieving the listener from the almost irritating, Lily Allen-esque I Hate Camera
, the track features an almost hyphy-like beat and a multi-layered chorus vocal reminiscent of Imogen Heap or Zero 7. Continuing the Down-Tempo like feel, Preparedness
, is probably the album’s best track. The track features a chilled out production style and George’s best performance, both lyrically and aurally. Vocally, The Bird and the Bee suggest comparisons to both Lily Allen, especially on the more up beat tracks, and fellow Blue Note artist, Norah Jones, mostly during ballads like album closer Spark
or the jazzy, saxophone aided, I’m a Broken Heart
where George’s coo sounds like it could easily have been sampled from a Norah Jones album.
Overall, The Bird and the Bee
is far from the Jazz that Blue Note records is known for, but are nothing less because of it. An album for fans of many of the U.K.’s current chart toppers, The Bird and the Bee
is both fun and extremely solid. But, while bad tracks are few and far between, great tracks are just as scarce. Most of The Bird and the Bee
is average, albeit highly danceable and fun, Pop music: worth the download, but hardly the purchase.