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Album review: The Bird and the Bee's 'Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future'

Birdbee_2 The Bird and the Bee, the project of singer Inara George and Lily Allen’s producer Greg Kurstin, makes exquisite dinner party music. That’s not a slight — like any other subgenre, it has its good and its bad, its watered-down faux bubbly and its liquid gold. And the Bird and the Bee’s second album, “Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future,” is on the liquid gold side — let’s say Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, because Françoise Hardy probably drinks it.

Building crisp pop imbibements that can stand up to several listens is no easy task, but the Bird and the Bee has found the trick: Complex melodies constructed of several simple, shiny parts, all revolving around George’s breathy voice, the calling card of a nocturnal party sprite who might be cooing her songs at a flirty soiree.

But she’s also not afraid to command the center: “Polite Dance Song” is a showcase for Kurstin and George’s sly wit. Over an arched eyebrow of a beat, George demands, with extra sugar, for you to dance. She’s also adorably kooky: In “Diamond Dave,” a perfumed mash note for David Lee Roth, she pledges her undying love for the king of the unitard.

There are moments when the party cools, when George retreats to an introspective center, but that’s what you play when everyone’s gone and you still have all those dishes to do and only a drop of Veuve left.

--Margaret Wappler

The Bird and the Bee
“Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future”
(Blue Note)
3 stars

 
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