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Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future
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2009 release. Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future is definitely new sonic terrain for the Los Angeles-based duo. Every bit as beguiling as their debut, the album retains its predecessor's lithe melodies and Brazilian influences, but takes its stylish, '60s pop deeper into the Psychedelic period of the Tropicalia era. 14 tracks.
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My favorite track of this album is "Meteor." Listening to the opening verse, I was confident this track was going to be the low point of the album. Then, suddenly, the chorus kicks in and all the pieces of the song unexpectedly fit together in a very lush, creamy sort of way. I can't think of any other way to describe it. "What's in the Middle" is another great tune with a very interesting melody, "Love Letter to Japan" is a small tribute to bubblegum J-Pop (and a fun video if you get the chance to see it), and "You're a Cad" has a theatrical flair to it replete with major and minor chords that seem to do-si-do around each other. The other tunes on this album are deserving of similar praise! (By the way, it is true that 2 songs on this album have previously been released. I'm not sure about "Polite Dance Song," but "Birthday" is not a carbon-copy of the same song from their previous album. There are changes in some of the instrumentation that were quite noticeable to me compared to the previous version.)
It's easy to get tired of songs on mainstream radio that sound pretty, but end up being the same old thing and are forgettable after a month or two (and aim to please 98% of radio listeners). Groups like The Bird and the Bee, The Ditty Bops, The Divine Comedy, and Air (just a few of my favorites) are the ones I cherish because they offer something different. Most importantly, their melodies are hummable long after you've hit stop on your CD/MP3 player.
"Ray Gun" is begging to be used in advertisements for the next season of "Mad Men", with George cooing "I'm caught under the weight of all this talk on life" over a smoky bass and Continental harpsichord loop. The duo experiment with different retro genres from bouncy music hall ("You're A Cad") to J-pop ("Love Letter to Japan") to sappy love ballads ("Baby"). Admittedly, the duo's style leaves little room for ambivalence. You either buy into the 60's lounge vibe or you don't (hence my 4-star rating.) The music reminds of Bond girls: fun, throwback attitudes, sexy but aloof, awfully clever but a little vacant. "Diamond Dave" is your Dalton-era song: a tribute to David Lee Roth (I like the song and the films, but I know I'm in the minority).
Like user penname, this is the first album I've bothered to review. It's that good.
The end result, "Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future" is a great evolution of BATB's sound, with sci-fi keyboards and hot dance hall beats.
This is probably one of my favorite albums of the year so far. "Ray Guns" feature a wide variety of hip-hop beats, 60s funk and sci-fi sounds. It makes for an awesome retro futuristic album.
Songs such as "What's In the Middle" feature rocking hip-hop beats with awesome synthesizers playing in a dark minor key. Best of all, the simple bass line just sounds so cool that it feels more like an old James Bond film. And the cool electric guitar solo adds an edge that no other band has.
Other songs, such as "Baby," layer Inara George's entrancing vocals, making for an effervescent sound. It's so seductive to hear George's oohs and aahs with ascending harp sounds and xylophones in the background.
Awesome dance tunes, such as the single, "Love Letter to Japan," really demonstrate just how comfortable George and Kurstin have settled in with their dance rhythms and 60s sensibilities. The staccato synthesizers combine with a koto sound playing a Japanese melody, making for a surreal romance song about Japan. On a side note, their music video for the song is just as cool, with a Japanese guy playing a Dance Dance Revolution-style arcade game, with George and Kurstin singing on the screen.
And while there are some boring songs, such as the quiet and somewhat dull "Lifespan of a Fly," this is one of the coolest albums I've ever heard from Inara George in a long time. The Bird and the Bee are definitely one of the coolest pop groups in America right now.