Music

The Bird and the Bee: Recreational Love

The subtle charm and sly sophistication of the style makes you gaze at shoes and tap your feet at the same time.


The Bird and The Bee

Recreational Love

Label: Rostrum
US Release Date: 2015-07-17
Amazon
iTunes

The connections between the Bird and the Bee’s new album, Recreational Love, and the music of Hall & Oates are not surprising. After all, the Bird and the Bee’s last album was 2010’s The Master’s Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. But the Los Angeles’ based artists, Inara George and Greg Kurstin, do more than pay homage to the Philadelphia band’s sound here. Recreational Love reveals the subtle charm and sly sophistication of the style through George and Kurstin’s creative talents. It makes you gaze at shoes and tap your feet at the same time.

The most direct example of this can be found in the title track, which serves as a reply to the narrator of Hall & Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That”. That individual offers his body but not his soul to his sexual partner. George’s female vocals coo in response that there is no such thing as just “Recreational Love”. Their sexual relationship indicates a deep love for each other, and he knows it. She does not buy his denials and expresses this in a clearly erotic manner.

Kurstin does a brilliant job of capturing the Hall & Oates ethos through the use of synthesizers and effects, without copying or cloying. The mellow pace on tracks like “Runaway”, “We’re Coming Your Way”, and “Lovey Dovey” suggests the importance of restraint and allows George to shine without having to stretch. That’s kind of the point. Life and love should be laid back, but that doesn’t make it any less intense. Desire, connection, time passing -- these topics matter.

The duo also can be funny. Sometimes the lyrics get purposely wry. George sings of her home town, “Stop asking me where I come from / I’m from L.A. la-la-la-la / living in L.A.” Her voice has a pleasant lilt that insists the much maligned city has much going for it. Unlike Randy Newman’s ironic “I Love L.A.”, the Bird and the Bee sincerely mean it and show it with a smile.

Their sense of humor can get a bit strange and playful in a way the recalls the sardonic Hall & Oates’ of “Maneater”. George repeatedly croons of sex (“Fill me. Fill me. Fill me. / Fill me. Fill me. Fill me. / Fill me. Fill me. Fill me / with all the love I ever need “) and death (“Kill me. Kill me. Kill me. / Kill me./ Kill me. Kill me. / Kill me. / Kill me. Kill me / I would kill myself to please you”) on “Please Take Me Home” as if one’s base emotions are merely blasé. The Bird and the Bee imply this pose is only a cover for the astonishing reality of one’s inner life. The singer is no rich bitch, although she may be on the surface.

Kurstin’s catchy synth pop of Recreational Love and George’s warm vocals function to relax the listener. The music is often soft and expansive; the lyrics sung melodiously. Don’t let the surface gloss fool you. The deeper experience is glossy, too. What you hear is what you hear, and if you pay attention you will be splendidly rewarding.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

Books

David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors


David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.

Music

David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.

Music

Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".

Music

Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.

Music

The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.

Music

Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.

Film

NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.

Music

South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.

Music

Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Books

Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.

Music

Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Music

Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.

Music

Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.

Music

Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.