The Bird and the Bee make fun retro-pop

The Bird and the Bee
“Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future”
3.5 stars out of 5

The pairing of Greg Kurstin and Inara George, The Bird and the Bee, returns with a second record of retro-pop after their self-titled debut found critical success and managed to score a number-one hit on the club charts. While this record lacks the potential for mainstream success, its subtle melodies and slick production are a pleasure to listen to, even on the lesser tracks.

Kurstin is no stranger to producing stylized hit songs and is responsible for giving Lily Allen some of her more irresistible hooks. While The Bird and the Bee might not have a foul-mouthed Brit on vocals, George’s vocals on “Ray Guns” are a fine fit for the material. Her voice seems to have floated out of a Bond theme to compliment Kurstin’s intricate layering of keyboards and drum machines.

The songwriting, from both members of the duo, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the wry humor and wordplay only adds to the fun. There aren’t as many catchy songs as one would have expected to find on here, but The Bird and the Bee remain a memorable and distinctive indie-pop act.

Key Tracks: “My Love,” “Diamond Dave,” “Polite Dance Song”

Bruce Springsteen
“Working on a Dream”
2 stars out of 5

When Bruce Springsteen released “Magic” just under a year-and-a-half ago, the E Street Band had been on hiatus for five years.

The time was right for a revival of the trademark Springsteen sound, and the Boss delivered, crafting his best album in years, arguably since 1984’s “Born In The U.S.A.”

Aside from a fairly important gig this month in Tampa, Springsteen has been given little reason to be brandishing a new record, though “Working on a Dream” was released just the same late in January. Though the E Street Band was along for the ride, “Dream” bears the uncanny feel of a Springsteen solo effort, fitting in awkwardly between 2002’s “The Rising” and his recent work with Pete Seeger.

Featuring folkier musings like eight-minute opener “Outlaw Pete” and the theme from the recent film “The Wrestler” alongside vanilla rockers like the title track, “Dream” is bogged down by an awkward juxtaposition, not to mention the often undetectable presence of Little Steven, Clarence Clemons and the rest of the E Streeters.

On top of all that, “Queen of the Supermarket” may be the worst song the Boss has ever written.

Key tracks: None