I was listening to one of my favorite new albums, Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future by The Bird and the Bee. In particular, I was listening to the song “Witch,” a song that is extremely evocative of the music of classic James Bond movies (and not just because I’ve been watching Moonraker on my iPhone over the past couple of nights). So I decided to google “The Bird and the Bee” Witch “James Bond” to see if anyone had discussed this correlation.
The first result back was the Rolling Stone review of the album, which I was disappointed to see had only received a 2-star rating. The review is scornfully dismissive of the blatant influence of Burt Bacharach, bossa nova and the Bee Gees. So imagine my surprise when I read Rolling Stone’s 3-and-a-half-star review of their first album, which mentioned, in a far more appreciative tone, the blatant influence of Burt Bacharach, bossa nova and the Beach Boys.
Granted, the Beach Boys are probably a more enduringly worthy influence than the Bee Gees. But I happen to really like “How Deep Is Your Love” (which The Bird and the Bee covered on an EP a couple years ago and which, I have read, but I hasten to note I would not know from personal experience, was also included in the Sex and the City movie soundtrack), and I doubt that the influence of the Beach Boys vs. the influence of the Bee Gees would, on its own, make a star-and-a-half difference in the quality of the two albums.
I have not actually heard The Bird and the Bee’s first album (yet), but if their second is only a 2-star effort, then the first must be a 3-and-a-half-star masterpiece beyond anything in the known world of music.
The real problem here is that musical tastes are highly subjective, even among music reviewers who work for the same publication. But although the reviewers in Rolling Stone get a byline, RS still presents a monolithic face as the voice of popular music criticism, and as such it would be nice if they could maintain a little continuity in their treatment of individual artists from one album to the next, at least to the extent that the star ratings should not be applied as subjectively as the commentary within the reviews themselves… or, the star ratings should never be presented out of context without noting the name of the reviewer who assigned an album its rating.