Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Bird And The Bee’s third album was originally titled Guiltless Pleasures before it became the even less ambiguous Interpreting The Masters, all of which is a pretty strong indication that the synth-pop duo’s album of Hall And Oates covers is executed with little to no irony. And rightfully so; thankfully, the patina of ironic appreciation that once coated the R&B powerhouse seems to have gone the way of John Oates’ signature mustache. Instead, The Bird And The Bee employ a genuine appreciation for Hall And Oates’ unassailable pop songcraft. Since vocalist Inara George and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin have pretty spot-on pop sensibilities themselves, it’s unsurprising that their faithful renderings of eight H&O hits are as listenable as their source material. The album’s one original track, “Heard It On The Radio,” which could easily be a long-lost H&O B-side, displays the duo’s grasp of and reverence for their inspiration.

It doesn’t take much of a sonic leap to get from Hall And Oates’ ’80s-era keys-and-synths soul to The Bird And The Bee’s ’00s-era keys-and-synths twee, so Interpreting The Masters feels more like a loving tribute than a creative reworking. But George’s cooing vocals add some extra interest, particularly her sassy take on “Rich Girl” and the mournful “She’s Gone.” It isn’t revelatory, but it’s a natural fit that makes up for its familiarity with listenability and pure fun—no irony necessary.


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