Please Clap Your Hands

The Bird and the Bee

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Please Clap Your Hands Review

by Andrew Leahey

Please Clap Your Hands arrives just nine months after the duo's full-length debut, but the Bird and the Bee have already widened their aviary considerably. Taking a cue from "F*cking Boyfriend," whose breezily crisp rhythms sat atop the Billboard Club Play charts for weeks in 2006, Hands quickens the pace by adding more dance textures to Greg Kurstin's lush studio creations. "So You Say" swirls with garage rock-psychedelia, its summery riff pumped by a Farfisa organ, while "Man" mixes spacy sound effects with some of Kurstin's most involved percussion to date. Throughout it all, vocalist Inara George remains calm and collected, willing to incite her listeners to dance but reluctant to join in the fun herself. This proves to be an interesting dichotomy; while Kurstin plays the bee and buzzes around the studio, George assumes a songbird's stance from an elevated, disengaged perch, her honeyed melodies driving the bee into fits of instrumental frenzy. She can sing, undoubtedly, and she does so with the cool, measured sass of a Bond girl. But it's often her overdubbed harmonies -- quick, jazz-chorded bursts that flank the melodies stylishly -- that show her real dexterity as a vocalist. George handles herself like a veteran card player, waiting for key moments to throw down a loaded hand, and her controlled style allows Kurstin's orchestrations to become something more than background music. When paired together -- Kurstin, the hyperactive composer, and George, the composed siren -- the Bird and the Bee become an engaging mix of yin and yang, jazz and electro-pop, Burt Bacharach and the Bee Gees (whose "How Deep Is Your Love" is reprised here).

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