I Love You Talk Bird
A couple must know they've got something pretty special when they can agree that staying in for the night means less TV and more time spent sprawled out on the living room floor making beats and fiddling with circuitry. Beatrix (Bianca Pettis) and JAR (Jacob Aaron Roske)—whose back story begins with the pair falling in love at a Canadian boarding school—make sound collages that have all the cozy familiarity of a romantic evening spent in the glow of a laptop.
The Minneapolis duo approach electronic music with the notion that the future is the past, and that instrumentation is readily available at Goodwill. Their layered backing tracks depend heavily on circuit-bent keyboards—a collection of electronic Frankensteins that have been rewired and tricked out with new knobs and looping mechanisms. Also woven in are bargain-bin children's toys, modified to chatter away. When the vocal cameos aren't coming from squawking Speak & Spells, they're culled from old instructional records—tips on Portuguese pronunciation and basic puppy care.
Somewhere in that jumble, Beatrix*Jar manage to squeeze in some live singing as well. The pair's voices slide lackadaisically from note to note, a style that works best on "Paint by Numbers," where the words ooze like splatters on a canvas, and "Sea of Sleeves," which brings to mind a lazy afternoon spent in a Downy-scented nest. "Atlas" shows off the band's skill for making poetry out of tech geekery: "Electronic teamsters/Writhe through the drone/Hot lips are thirsty/Drink microphone."
Other times, Pettis and Roske willingly forfeit the mic to their scavenged sounds. A garbled DJ introducing a Christian rap crew tangles with a robotic voice asking that most clichéd of stage-banter questions on "Ready to Rock." Over a bed of innocently twinkling bells, "Easy Monday Office" presents a poorly acted scene at a vocal audition that turns into '70s porn in just over a minute ("Can't you sing lying down?"). Hey, what's a romantic/musical partnership without a little lovin' thrown in?