The Bird and the Bee

When one thinks of significant "duo" performers in American pop culture, who comes to mind? Sam and Dave, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Simon and Garfunkel ... um, ahem. Add to that list the Bird and the Bee, a California twosome of Greg Kurstin (all instruments except horns) and Inara George (vocals), daughter of late Little Feat guitarist Lowell George. Stylisticallythey're something of an American counterpart to Stereolab but definitely not a knockoff. Both TBATB and Stereolab have nonchalant, cool-as-the-pillow's-other-side vocals and a penchant for sleek, pulsating melodies. And most of their songs are drenched in smartly infectious pop. Where they diverge: The Bird and the Bee is not as arch as their U.K. brethren, and their sense of humor is, well, American. "Cool babies with soft operations/Holding my hand, throwing coins in my cup/Dusty numbers and public relations/Tell me to sit there and just shut up," sweetly goes the refrain of "I Hate Camera." After only one listen to "F*cking Boyfriend," I dare you to keep the sardonic "Would you ever be my/Would you ever be my f*cking boyfriend?" chorus out of your mind's tape loop. In contrast to the USA's fast-food ethos, TBATB seeks to seduce listeners with wit and class. — Mark Keresman

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Mark Keresman