The Bird And The Bee: Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future

[Blue Note]

Boy, is this CD one boring, personality-devoid piece of merchandise. L.A. pair The Bird and The Bee loves to use that bad synthesized harpsichord sound that Stereolab somehow made kosher. They also add hackneyed Tropicalia and “Jazz” flourishes, and it’s all set down on top of mindless, pre-programmed beats, surrounded by layers of more clichéd, stylish sounds: sweeping samples, polite guitar and gently bobbing bass lines. Lead crooner Inara George sings well, but she shows little creative range and mainly succeeds at sounding painfully average.

The reference point that springs to mind for this group is mid-’90s Luscious Jackson/Josephine Wiggs side-project Dusty Trails or, better yet, Broadcast, a band that actually pulls off cold, electronic modernism perfectly. Where the more experimentally-minded Broadcast employs strange guitar noise, intriguing synth-scapes, a solid backbeat and a hallucinatory lyrical delivery to conjure up cavernous, anomic states of mind, The Bird and The Bee do the opposite, shooting straight down the middle of the road in order to numb the brain with a bland, unchallenging and ultimately soulless space-age pop product. (And isn’t this whole retro-futurist-space-age-ray-gun crap over with by now?)

Their main goal seems to be not to challenge the audience in any way but instead to make comfortable background music.

While their motivation for existence eludes me, The Bird and The Bee are obviously content to sit back, get paid and produce modern-day cocktail/lounge drivel. And they’ve succeeded, filling up a record with vapid elevator music for latte-sippers and iPhone shufflers who don’t have the patience during morning Pilates to be bothered by anything of any musical merit. Grade: D

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