Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I Can't Go For That

Song: I Can't Go For That
Artist: The Bird and the Bee
Album: Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates

Coming pretty quickly after last year's sophomore album "Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future," L.A.-based synth-pop act The Bird and the Bee are releasing what is being considered their third, "Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall & John Oates" which is, just about how it sounds. Producer Greg Kurstin and vocalist Inara George take their signature loungy sound and apply it to the greatest hits of 80's legends Hall & Oates. Umm... okay.

After a nice, if out of place, original "Heard it on the Radio," (which does reference H & O) they kick off into "I Can't Go For That," which can only be described as.. "cute." On one hand, it almost sounds like they are taking the piss a little, as they seem to relish in the goofy pop bliss of the song, winking at its 80's-ness, but yet restraining themselves from letting it all go into parody territory.

Which reminds me that when it comes to thinking of Hall & Oates, you sort of fall into two categories; you either think of their music as goofy 80's, songs only to be enjoyed in a wink-wink ironic way. Sort of like an 80's Carpenters whom fell out of favor with the pop public and are not, and can not, be truly respected within the history of music. OR, you simply consider the pair two of the best singer-songwriters to come from the era, writing perfect heart-felt pop songs that have stood the test of time and are welcome to modern interpretation. (And I am again reminded of the Carpenters, who's tribute album "If I Were a Carpenter" found some of the 90's best Alternative Rock acts proving that behind the sad, catchy tracks by the pair were just some killer killer songs.)

In terms of Hall & Oates, I fell into the former initially which I attribute to my age, but now feel the former. Their music is dated for sure, but like the Carpenters... these dudes were writing GREAT tunes. Nothing more, nothing less.

Over the course of "Interpreting the Masters Volume 1," I wondered where The Bird and the Bee stand on the subject. At just over thirty minutes long the album doesn't over-stay it's welcome and I certainly enjoyed hearing Inara's vocals over these familiar pop nuggets. "Rich Girl," "Maneater," and "Kiss is On My List" all sparkle with a cute giddiness that they capture with their own original material. And by the end you do realize they have much love for the songs and the guys, and yet... they don't do enough different with them. Enough that you question the whole project in it's entirety.

While enjoyable, I think these covers are best plucked from this breezy album and plugged into a larger playlist, as song after song does render the entire album a little too cute and cloying for pure enjoyment. One at a time, they offer that great "OMG who is doing this song?!?!" that should only be used sparingly.

What do you think? True tribute or parody?


I Can't Go For That

Private Eyes

Heard it on the Radio

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