The Troubadour, January 23

You know who totally digs the Bird and the Bee, singer Inara George and keyboard whiz Greg Kurstin’s groovy new L.A. art-pop act? You guessed it, Mandy Moore. The one-time teen-pop chick told me so herself last month when I met her for breakfast for a magazine story; she said she’s been playing the duo’s 2006 EP nonstop since she discovered it on iTunes. (Only time a movie star’s ever been jealous of moi: when Moore found out I had the B&B full-length ahead of its January 23 release. Next time call in a favor, homegirl!)

Besides Mandy, I’m having a tough time figuring out who exactly constitutes the Bird and the Bee’s constituency. The band’s record-release show at the Troubadour last week was packed, but the crowd resisted any meaningful demographic analysis: indie-rock hipsters, sure, but also nerdy sound-library guys, musical-theater refugees, aging bizzers and one haggard, sun-streaked lady who predicted that in 20 years Britney Spears will look exactly like Taylor Dayne.

This hodgepodge seems to be George and Kurstin’s goal: The Bird and the Bee is a kaleidoscopic little marvel, the unlikely sweet spot where classy Tin Pan Alley songsmithing meets post-electronica soundhounding. Onstage, abetted by a guitarist-bassist-autoharpist, three female backup singers and Joey Waronker on drums, the duo re-created the album’s sleek, shoe-store pop almost too well; at points the music seemed encased in amber, the ensemble a tiny planet of cool in perpetual orbit.

One spark of spontaneity flared up late in the brief set when Sia Furler, the Australian electro-folkie who often sings with Zero 7, stumbled down from the VIP to duet with George on a woozy version of the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love.” Not sure if Mandy dug that old chestnut (or if she was even around). But the aging bizzers stroked chin appreciatively.

—Mikael Wood

LA Weekly