When i saw this record in a listening booth, i was struck by the label. Blue Note has a long history of releasing excellent jazz, and i was curious to hear what they were doing these days. I don't listen to a lot of contemporary jazz, for no real reason other than that it seems hard to find. However, this isn't a jazz record. The Bird and the Bee make a very contemporary pop.
That is to say, this record is full of a thousand sounds in myriads of layers. You get the sense that there are two instruments: the voice (here courtesy of Inara George) and the studio (presumably manipulated by Greg Kurstin). Modern pop music all seems like this to me: you can barely separate out any of the instrumentation, and even when you can, it is hard to tell if it is real or computer generated (for example – was there a drummer on this album, or simple a really high quality drum machine? I can't tell.) Even the voice is computer manipulated – it is layered, resampled, distorted, and polished.
Not that there is anything wrong with this, really. If the music is good, who cares how it is put together? And The Bird and the Bee have put together a high quality collection of tunes. This is apparently their second album, but it is my introduction to them.
The Bird and the Bee make some catchy pop music with a vaguely electronic feel blended with a bit of lounge music. I guess this is a female vocaled version of what Thievery Corporation were trying to do before they got distracted by all that "world music" stuff.
There are some great tracks here. I have to start off by mentioning Diamond Dave, which is, in fact, a love song for David Lee Roth. It's a catchy tune, and fun too. I wonder what he thinks of it.
My Love is a fun tune with lots of clapped rhythm and a really dreamy chorus. Layers of female voice back Ms. George at her most melodic here. And then of course there is the obvious single, Love Letter To Japan, a chaotic mess of a song that seems designed to run over the end credits of some strange romantic anime film involving some girl falling in love with a space monster or something. The song is crazy, with parts that seem like a chorus is shouting the words, a few lines in Japanese, and lots of distortion and strange sounds floating through. And yet, it works on the whole, in a surreal Japanese sort of way.
On the whole – not a bad disc. There are some really good tunes here. So, this is what Blue Note is up to these days. Huh.