Inara George and Greg Kurstin return from a four-year hiatus with a polished and sickly-sweet collection of indie-pop serenades. The album is an ode to the ‘Young and Dumb’ forever making mistakes in love and sex, particularly the breed of young lovers who don’t want commitment: “You would say you don’t need that stuff / You’re just not the same creature”. The message is a little patronising, but nonetheless universal.
‘Young and Dumb’ is forgettable as the album opener, but sets the scene. ‘Recreational Love’ is far superior – George’s charming vocals vibrate and sigh over 80s funk. ‘Will You Dance?’ takes the crown for its high school dance-like quality: picture the crowd parting for two sweethearts to meet eyes across a hazy gymnasium. This album is full of vulnerability, and therefore feels different to a typical pop album. The slick, bouncing pop elicits a haunting contrast to the chaos and debris of young love. Not to mention the feeling of nostalgia, brought to the forefront in ‘Doctor’ with a revitalising saxophone solo from Karl Denson, reminding us of the duo’s love of jazz composition.
The lyrics occasionally feel over-simplified, which puts the album at risk of being repetitive and does not truly express the talent of these two songwriters. The two tracks that emerge from the crowd are ‘Los Angeles’ and ‘Lovey Dovey’, the former being an infectious admiration for George’s hometown, and the latter a waltzing yarn about aching for a lover (and is reminiscent of some of George’s early solo work). The minor notes and music box quality give the track enough edge to end the album’s steady improvement on a high.
Kurstin has collaborated with artists like The Flaming Lips, Ellie Goulding and Peaches, solidifying his status as an indie-pop master. He produced Lily Allen’s ‘Fear’ and Sia’s ‘Chandelier’; tracks that essentially typify the 21st Century pop climate. His partnership with Inara George brings out their playful sensibility, and as a result, a harmonious homage to retro synth-pop emerges. The album does not stray far from the duo’s typical sound from earlier albums, so listeners may be left wanting something a little bolder, but will not be disappointed by The Bird and the Bee’s latest candied collection.
‘Recreational Love’ is out now on Polydor