Inara George and Wendy Wang go way back. Wang, a multi-instrumentalist and mastermind of the Sweet Hurt, began playing with George and Greg Kurstin in the Bird and the Bee’s live band some 12 years ago. Since then, Wang has plied her talents not only as an in-demand side player but as a producer, co-writer and composer for film and television, compiling an extensive list of credits.
Over the past few years, the duo has gotten together sporadically to work on a handful of songs. “There was no rush on my side,” says George, who, besides her work with the Bird and the Bee, has released four solo albums, the latest in 2018. “And Wendy’s been super busy with her own career, so it took a few years to finish by getting together for a few hours every so often. Maybe I had it in mind to make a full album? Or maybe a traditional EP?”
George and Wang settled on the word “bundle,” which is what’s they’re calling the three-song “The Youth of Angst,” coming out June 5 on George’s new label Release Me Records (Samantha Sidley, Alex Lilly).
“Brother” offers a short but sweet introduction to the bundle, which as a whole trades in an open-hearted but not cloying nostalgia for a family and friends. “No one will ever know you better than your brother can,” says George, who cites a couple of moments in the song that reflect that bond. “And when I lost the game / You wrapped your, your arms around me / You said, ‘Don’t let it get you down / Cause I’m your brother,’” she sings in a voice that would make a recitation of HTML code sound like the sweetest of memories.
George says “The Youth of Angst” is the first in a series planned collaborations “with a little theme and not the huge pressure of a full album.
“I wanted to write from the perspective of my younger self, but also with the idea that I could never actually have that perspective again,” she adds. “I suppose this bundle is nostalgic for a time and feeling that isn’t really possible to recreate, or only possible to recreate in my imagination.”
All of which sounds particularly relevant amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think we are all kind of grappling with this reality right now,” George says. “We can only move forward from here. Life won’t be the same for a while, or maybe ever. But it’s nice to dream about the past while re-imagining the future, and I like the idea of doing these little collaborations, especially in these times of isolation.”
||| Stream: “Brother”