The Bird & The Bee are undeniably hip. Singer/bassist Inara George (the bird) has a smooth-yet-powerful delivery, the likes of which reminds me of Feist or Astrud Gilberto. Matching her vocals with the modern synth-pop styling of Greg Kurstin (the bee) has already resulted in a pair of excellent records on jazz-label Blue Note Records. At a first glance, their newest record Interpreting the Masters Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates sticks out from the crowd.
I was first exposed to this record listening to Radio 1190 while driving to dinner a few weeks ago. A bubbly, dance-beat-infused rendition of “Rich Girl” had me dancing along in the seat of my car. At that point I had to ask, “Did I really just get groovy to a Hall & Oates song?” which lead to the subsequent question, “What would my parents think?”
While I have always found the mustachioed album sleeves of the 1980’s pop-soul duo to be a delightful reminder of regrettable fashion trends gone by, it’s hard to dismiss the songwriting genius that was Hall & Oates in their prime. Reinvented for a new generation, The Bird & The Bee’s cover album updates several classic songs which might otherwise get overlooked by the modern listener.
The record starts out with an original Bird & Bee song: “Heard It On The Radio,” a tune that is incredibly reminiscent of good 1980’s pop music. “Kiss On My List,” “Private Eyes,” and “Rich Girl” take on more upbeat dance grooves while maintaining the soulful feel of the original versions. Slow jam “One On One” outdoes the original by smoothing out the overall feel of the song and getting rid of the odd-sounding drum machine heard on the Hall & Oates version.
Overall, I would not be surprised to hear any cuts from this record at a wedding or dance party. The songs could manage to draw young and old to the dance-floor; something that can’t be said for many new releases. Final verdict: The Bird & The Bee have managed to do Hall & Oates their proper justice while still maintaining a distinct and creative atmosphere.