The Bird and the Bee
Schubas; Fri 11
It’s too soon to call them the second coming of Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick. But clearly, Greg Kurstin and Inara George are onto something. After only two releases as the Bird and the Bee, the L.A.-based duo has managed to update a pop aesthetic whose sophistication seemed destined to be only read about in MOJO retrospectives. As it turns out, Kurstin and George are uniquely suited to their job: The two are jazz junkies in love with the three-minute pop song.
They come to Schubas this week supporting Please Clap Your Hands (Blue Note), their five-song EP from last fall, which is of a piece with their eponymous debut: heavily processed drums, layered harmonies and brilliantly constructed melodic shapes. The daughter of Little Feat lead singer Lowell George, Inara couldn’t be further from her father’s gutsy soul-man shtick. In fact, her dry-as-chardonnay coo of a voice always sounds exquisitely bored: “Would you please clap your hands?” she sardonically asks on “Polite Dance Song.” After the four originals, a faithful rendition of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love” puts Please into must-download territory. While not the first modern group to recognize this song’s majesty (ahem, Smoking Popes), its subtle toying with harmonies makes the song breathe again. For this tour, Kurstin and George strip out the backing vocalists and extraneous musicians of previous tours and play as a duo. Remember the exotica revival of the ’90s, Esquivel reissues and all? This, the pair seems to say, is how it’s done.