Birdie

It

London-based Birdie’s coolest-couple-on-Earth songwriters, Debsey Wykes and Paul Kelly, have made top-notch, cultishly adored music for two decades. Wykes was one-third of pop-punk girl group Dolly Mixture, which released a couple of singles on Paul Weller’s Respond label in the early ’80s (as well as recent reissue CDs on Bob Stanley’s Royal Mint and Cornelius’ Trattoria imprints). And Kelly played in late-’80s/early-’90s outfit East Village, whose micro-indie recordings of carefully crafted Byrdsian guitar-pop are the stuff of record-collector legend. Birdie’s sound—Wykes’ velvety voice framed by Kelly’s transcendent jangling—crystallized in 1993 with the delicate, depressive perfect-pop masterpiece “Everybody Knows,” Wykes’ guest-singer spot on East Village’s posthumous Drop Out LP. But the two—perhaps sidetracked by their stint as Saint Etienne backing musicians—have been slow to develop their collaboration: Birdie was formed in 1995, released its first single in 1997, and finally put out its long-promised full-length debut last autumn. Well worth the wait, the exquisite Some Dusty leans more toward East Village’s restrained pop classicism than Dolly Mixture’s exuberant wackiness. Except for “One Two Five,” which is blemished by a gratuitous bit of wannabe jazziness, the album’s 10 songs perfectly display the team’s strengths: Wykes’ voice harmonizes elegantly with itself, Kelly’s intertwining guitars offer tasteful accompaniment, and Wykes’ inventive electric piano, organ, and Mellotron lines infuse the disc with a mellow, vintage-y vibe. “We’re always trying…to make the perfect pop song,” Wykes said in a recent interview. “You never quite get there, but you think it’s going to be it each time.” Her defeatism is uncalled for: Nine times out of 10, Some Dusty gets there just fine.—Leonard Roberge