Review: Andrew Bird
Thu Jan 22 2009
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Andrew Bird is a man who whistles while he works. He may pucker up and blow a few too many times on Noble Beast, but the new album—the recording of which was documented on The New York Times' Measure for Measure blog—remains fascinatingly intricate. Bird's airy voice and orchestral plucks garner initial attention, but it's his stream-of-consciousness lyrics that distinguish him from the indie hoi polloi. The million-dollar wordsmith kicks off the record's opening track, "Oh No," like so: "In the salsify mains of what was thought but unsaid?/?All the calcified arythmatists were doing the math." Say what?
It's still not altogether clear whether Bird is a Joycean genius or just a quick finger with his Roget's—most likely he's a little bit of both. Whatever the case, his complexity is intriguing. And even though this record doesn't boast tunes as hooky as those on his last one, Armchair Apocrypha—don't count on further Residence Inn spots—the nobility of this particular beast lies in its circuitousness. Songs like "Masterswarm" and "Tenuousness" present an onslaught of lyrical and musical hurdles, the latter due to Bird's continuing multi-instrumental and production proficiency. It's as if he's daring his audience to stop paying attention...or, as he might put it, "Endeavor to feign ennui dear addled symposium." Take a deep breath and stay the course; you may even feel more rewarded than that time you nearly finished Ulysses.