Monday, February 2, 2009

Andrew Bird ~ Noble Beast
TP Minnick

With lush chamber pop melodies and intelligent lyrics, Andrew Bird brings one of the first standout releases of 2009 by improving on the model he created on The Mysterious Production of Eggs. Although I was filled with a gigantic feeling of indifference on my first listen, the signature whistles and diversity of the album as a whole struck profoundly around the 5th listen. Songs like “Tenuousness” and “Anonaminal” make Noble Beast Bird’s most consistently beautiful album yet.
Bird continues to dazzle the listener with violins, banjos, chimes, and whistles, adding to the peaceful and natural atmosphere of the album, as the album art suggests. Tracks like “Oh No”, “Fitz and the Dizzyspells”, and “Effigy” use string-plucking, bridge whistling, and layered strings to brighten up the first half of the album. Two quick violin instrumentals add to the flow in the middle of the album but could have been better placed as parts of other tracks. Everything slows down with the ballad, “Natural Disaster”, and the album remains cool and relaxed until the disc spins and player stops.
“Not a Robot, But a Ghost” is the standout track with an exciting percussion shuffle and wailing, mournful strings. This song also points out the only problem with the album, which is that he rarely breaks his format and always tries to play it safe. The issue that separates this great album from being an excellent album is that Bird rarely experiments and is not willing to take the risks necessary to improve.
The lyrics are hyper-literate once again and words like “radiolarian”, “hobis-hot”, and “dizzyspells” show up throughout the album. What might sound like a problem to the listener who does not carry a pocket dictionary when listening to Andrew Bird is actually not, as the lyrics are not meant to be grasped literally. One gets the feeling that Bird might find more elegance in a word misheard than accurately understood, making his voice more of an instrument to the overall sound. This album is all about the vibe, and he really captures it!

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