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Album review: the Bird and the Bee's 'Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates'

March 22, 2010 | 10:59 pm

Tbatbvol1_cover Sometime in our collective redefinition of the '80s as the ultimate punch line of the recent decades, the scrumptious pop work of Daryl Hall and John Oates was unfairly written off as kitsch, the soundtrack for getting on your leg warmers or trimming your heavy Oates-style mustache.

But the local duo of singer Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Kurstin, as the Bird and the Bee, have retooled Hall & Oates' classic FM jams, reflecting the summery ease of Los Angeles instead of the choppy, blue-eyed soul of Philly.

Although they polish these radio baubles to a mellow shine, the pair never lose their heads in fandom.

"I Can't Go for That" is the Santa Ana winds of disco cool, with George delivering the title line with a chanteuse's detachment, a hallmark of her vocal style. "Kiss on My List" opens with an organ line that could be echoing in the loneliest roller-skating rink.

One of the best takes on the album is the sole original, "Heard It on the Radio," which functions as a love letter to summer earworms with bubbly synths.

The one drawback to "Interpreting the Masters" is really a compliment to the Bird and Bee: George is such a nuanced interpreter of her own lyrics that, though she has fun with these clever but not particularly deep pop lines, she can't find all the nooks that makes her own work so special.

-- Margaret Wappler

The Bird and the Bee

"Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates"

(Blue Note)

Three stars