NPR logo Tempering Whimsy with a Sprinkling of Venom

Tempering Whimsy with a Sprinkling of Venom

I'm a Broken Heart

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Monday's Pick

  • Song: "I'm a Broken Heart"
  • Artist: The Bird and the Bee
  • CD: The Bird and the Bee
  • Genre: Dance-Pop

The Bird and the Bee tells a sweetly catchy tale of heartbreak, yet never sounds heartbroken. hide caption

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The Bird and the Bee singer Inara George is the daughter of the late Lowell George, lead singer of the '70s roots-rock band Little Feat, but that's where the similarities end. George and partner Greg Kurstin specialize in a bubbly mixture of tropicalia, Euro-lounge and electro-pop so twinkly and otherworldly, it feels as if it were created by space aliens with access to the collected works of Bebel Gilberto.

The duo's self-titled debut is fanciful and infectious, riveting and maddening. George and Kurstin aren't afraid to lay on the twee with a trowel, though they know enough to temper their whimsy with a sprinkling of venom. The best track on The Bird and the Bee is dirty enough that its title can't be mentioned here; suffice it to say that it was once remixed by Peaches.

The second best, "I'm A Broken Heart," functions as a great big open wound of a song, a tale of heartbreak — "Ache, aching and teething / My big love is bleeding / I think I might be dying" — that doesn't sound at all heartbroken. George's feathery voice gives just enough lift to what would otherwise be a soggy and conventional track to render it eerie and effective, and a miracle of restraint besides.

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