Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Okay, I'm finally sold on them after being underwhelmed by their last album, Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future.  The electro-jazz pop duo of Greg Kurstin (Little Boots, Kylie Minogue, Lily Allen) and vocalist Inara George, known as The Bird and The Bee, are dead-set on  commercial success this time around.  Their latest studio effort, Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, really needs no explanation.  The title says it all really and the disc is absolutely exquisite.

The Bird and The Bee cover eight Hall & Oates classics, plus one new track, and I'm sure even they would be extremely flattered to have received such a tasteful tribute.   The album is heavy on 'late 70s and early '80s-inspired synths, which add tons of AM Radio nostalgia to its sound, and the duo keeps all original melodies and song structures intact which is commendable.  Nothing grates on my nerves more than a cover version trying to be something it isn't - why bother if the result will just become another entity altogether?  They  manage to stay true to the original lyrics even on tracks like One on One, which has George serenading a woman.  But really, with her spot-on phrasing and butter-smooth tone, George could sing me an obituary and I'd probably love it still in my state of hypnosis.  

I am hard-pressed to find one cover version I did not enjoy from this collection, including the one new track Heard it on the Radio which serves more as a prelude to the impending retrospective; it still sounds influenced by Hall & Oates as George recalls a love of yesterday still "on her list"Kiss on My List though, would have to be my favourite interpretation with its psychadelic Vox Continental organs which The Doors used a lot of, and the organ-fest continues on Maneater, where Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson is featured on backing vocals. Although understated, Kurstin's Grammy-nominated production values give these these timeless melodies that added breath of fresh air  needed to connect  these songs with today's audience.  She's Gone with its reggae inflections still sounds fresh to this day, but it is a pity the track fades out far too soon.  I Can't Go For That, despite having been covered and sampled ad nauseum, stands on its own merit thanks to Kurstin and George's electric chemistry. The last 45 seconds of it are just vibealicious and remixes would not be out of the question.  Private Eyes has been given the fun treatment and makes me want to just dance.

The Bird and The Bee are perhaps the closest thing to The Carpenters, this generation will see.  Although I am in favour of albums becoming shorter, this nine track disc is far too short, clocking in at 30 minutes only.  I want moreInterpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, released through Bluenote/EMI, will be in stores worldwide on March 23, 2010.  Grade: A+

Listen to The Bird and The Bee's take on Hall & Oates' Maneater (audio content owned by EMI):


  1. Nothing grates on my nerves more than a cover version trying to be something it isn't - why bother if the result will just become another entity altogether?

    but wouldn't you agree that an artist can really make a cover, "their own", a la k.d. lang's cover of roy orbison's "crying" as an example?

    what bugs me are remixes that sound nothing like the song, or that take it entirely out of genre. understanding that the whole point in remixes (generally speaking) is to make a track club-friendly...still, some songs simply are not meant for clubs.

    and so i've really gone on a tangent, have i not.

  2. i actually like ray guns, it was a mix of lily allen and metric almost, ill give this a shot as i love hall and oates! this is youre helen mirren secret tipster by the way lol

  3. Greg Kurstin can really do no wrong. He's producing Sia's new album in June too..can't wait for that!

    I've been obsessed with TBATB since I discovered them in 2008 and this album is pure bliss. You failed to note though that the first track "Heard It On The Radio" is actually an original and not a cover, so there are 8 H&O covers on the record.

    I had the pleasure of watching a live online stream of their one-off concert to promote this album in LA last friday (Inara is heavily preggers so they are only doing light promo, plus she's got her other group "The Living Sisters" to promote who have an album out at the end of the month) and they surprised the audience when John Oates himself came out to play on a few songs! So obviously they've got (at least half of) the band's stamp of approval.

  4. ThisAlien: "Thanks for the press release". hehehe :p I just think that covers should always stay somewhat true to their originals. They are tributes. When they veer too far away they become self-indulgent: "look at me and how creative I am!". But I'm with you on remixes that try to do too much.

    Ryan: So going if they come to Toronto!! U in?

    Anonymous: Time for you to get a Blogger account and start documenting your feats!

  5. Wouldn't miss it for the world

  6. just to clarify: it wasn't me who left the helen mirren comment.

  7. come on now.. don't be coy with me!! :p

  8. I'm so intrigued by this album. I wasn't 100% sold on their debut but this looks like it will push all my buttons. Nice review.