It's telling that Bond decided to cover the flutter disco classic "Fly Robin Fly" for Classified, its third official album. An irresistibly flaky studio confection of chirping strings and lighthearted beats, "Fly" was essentially a 1975 blueprint for the Bond girls' 21st century sound. Naturally, they handle it with professional charm. Backed by capable beats and processed guitar, violinists Eos Chater and Haylie Ecker, violist Tania Davis, and cellist Gay-Yee Westerhoff reproduce the track perfectly, right down to the vocal interjections (handled by Chater and Westerhoff). Yes, it's fluff. But so was the original, and it was a worldwide smash. Like the sweet violins cascading through the disco era, or Welsh whelp Charlotte Church transposing her soprano over show tunes and pop, Bond's classical skills are just arrows in their quivers as macro-pop interpreters on the world stage. Classified's set list of softballs and wide-angle international flair bears this out. The keening strings and pulsing beats of "Explosive" and the likely named "Samba" are lit with a Latin flame; "Hungarian" amplifies its gypsy qualities with relentless electronic rhythms; and "Lullaby" crosses the familiar sway of Pachelbel's Canon in D with cut-up pop resembling Madonna's "Don't Tell Me." The support of London's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on many of these tracks is a nice connector to the classical world, but Classified is still dominated by slick pop production and clicky drum machines, often rendering even Bond's playing as part of the overall scenery. There's filler here, too, where Bond's recombinant formula takes things too far. "Highly Strung," for example, tries to marry Khachaturian's manic Sabre Dance to spy movie guitar and chattering electronics, the result being more garishly cartoonish than interpretive. Still, as their cover of "Fly Robin Fly" suggests, Bond is just trying to have some widely accessible fun. Classified doesn't have purist appeal, but who needs those sourpusses, anyway?
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Review by Johnny Loftus