If you know Greg Kurstin for his work with Sia, Lily Allen or Kelly Clarkson, you’ll probably come into his own musical unit The Bird and The Bee—featuring the talented Inara George on vocals—expecting similar pop hits. Instead, you’ll find something different; their style is a mixture of electronic pop and jazz. Even with a decreased focus on jazz on Recreational Love, it feels fresh and exciting; even more so than Kurstin’s recent popular productions.
Recreational Love feels smaller in sound and scope than their previous original album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, with a more low-key throwback electro sound and a mere 10 tracks. The jazz touch is still there, and especially noticeable on album opener Young and Dumb and the closing ballad Lovey Dovey, but it’s not a huge part of the album thematically. There’s also a lack of bombastic songs like Love Letter to Japan from their last album, which might have added a nice touch to this album.
At the same time, it’s nothing you’ll miss by the time you finish listening to it. Will You Dance? offers a strong pop sound, with an especially hooky chorus. The spacey dream-pop of Los Angeles, with George’s vocals, is both calming and enthralling. The real showstopper is Jenny; a simple, bleeping dance track that sounds almost freakishly animated compared to its companions, but slots in perfectly on the album regardless. An honourable mention goes to Doctor for its light pop rock edge and saxophone solo in the middle eight. There’s enough to keep you entertained without overstaying its welcome, and it’s all high quality.
Whether you prefer the work of The Bird and the Bee to Kurstin’s more mainstream productions is up to personal taste. From an objective viewpoint, this particular album is an extremely solid collection of music; it might not be groundbreaking or attention-demanding in scale, but the quality is there. Inara George is a stunning fit on vocals as well, and it’s clear to see why Kurstin and George have been working under the name together for the past nine years. Recreational Love is a thoroughly enjoyable return to the scene for the duo.