Los Angeles musical duo Bird and the Bee — aka pop superproducer Greg Kurstin and doe-eyed singer-songwriter Inara George — have spent the past four years churning out two albums and three EPs full of impossibly hip retro-tinged synth pop.
Now the pair have succumbed to the guiltiest of pleasures with their new record, Interpreting the Masters Volume 1, a collection of Hall & Oates cover songs.
“If you’re between the ages of 25 and 55, you know Hall & Oates. When you’re a kid, those songs just seep into your psyche. As I got older and heard them again, I was surprised by how well they were crafted. They’re just good pop songs, you know?” George said, explaining the thought process behind one of the year’s most enjoyably random records.
And this is no tiresome exercise in ironic hipster cool — George and Kurstin commit to ’80s blue-eyed soul hits like Maneater, Rich Girl and I Can’t Go For That and perform them faithfully and earnestly. The one original song in the collection, opening track Heard it On The Radio, is a sincere ode to the joys of hearing Hall & Oates songs on the radio.
“If we do a cover, it’s because we respect the song. We tried to stay true to the original recordings, to the point where I closely follow Daryl Hall’s vocal stylings, which we’ve gotten a little flak for. But it was really a love letter to Hall & Oates, so we wanted to be respectful,” George said.
And they’ve received the ultimate seal of approval for their efforts — a thumbs-up from Hall & Oates themselves.
“Greg has talked to Daryl Hall a little bit recently, and he gave the record his blessing. And John Oates actually flew out from his home in Colorado to play with us when we performed in LA recently, which was such a thrill.”
While George confirmed that the Volume 1 in the record’s title is no red herring (“We don’t know who we’d like to cover next, but there’s definitely a plan for a volume 2.”), it appears fans will have to wait a while for any follow-up — she was eight months pregnant when we spoke.
“The baby could come at any minute! You know, the way that Greg and I work, it’s definitely the lowest impact for the greatest outcome, so keeping the Bird and the Bee going is the easiest, most productive thing.
“I know that I’ll be out of commission for a while, but soon enough, hopefully I can bring my new baby to the studio with me and keep writing music.”
info: Interpreting the Masters Volume 1 (EMI) is out now.