The guy/girl power-pop duo seems to be a relatively recent development (see Mates of State, Quasi). But Georgie James, the band name of ex-Q and not U drummer John Davis and singer-songwriter Laura Burhenn, look further back then recent indie twosomes for influences. The band sounds plucked straight from ’70s FM radio. On its largely successful debut, Places, Georgie James makes the phrase “reminiscent of Boz Scaggs or Boston” not as entirely off-putting as it should be.
Synchronized hand claps, bouncy keyboards, and two-part harmonies abound on the mostly upbeat Places. Davis’s lockstep drumming keeps things intact. Burhenn at times seems to be inflecting a hipster female vocalist lilt so that she’ll sound more like current cool-girl Feist (no one really pronounces the word “all” as “awww-rrr-rrr”). But these stretches don’t keep a song like “Cake Parade” from succeeding. The tune sounds like a lightweight at first, but deeper inspection of the lyrics reveals it as an anti-war rant, with Burhenn saying of our troops, “We can line them up and have them play at guns/ And we don’t have to watch at all.”
That’s about as deep as Places gets, though. Both Burhenn and Davis try to say something about pharmaceutical dependence on “Cheap Champagne” and “You Can Have It,” respectively. But the message largely gets lost in translation. That’s fine, because Georgie James doesn’t need to be a message band; Davis and Burhenn just need to make more fun pop rock like the Jim Croce-ian country swing of “Henry and Hanzy.”