Andrew Bird

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:: Andrew Bird ::
 :: Ogden Theatre :: Feb 26 ::

Andrew Bird
Noble Beast

Fat Possum
4 out of 5

Attention Axl Rose: There is someone who’s a better whistler than you — Andrew Bird.
Joking aside, native Chicagoan Andrew Bird has created a musical gem of an album with his fifth studio release, Noble Beast.

If intelligent music is something that has been lost in the mainstream, Bird has harkened back to a time when studio albums and musicianship actually meant something more than a singer’s bust line or chiseled chin.

Noble Beast is full of crafty songs, engaging instrumentation and hidden melodies. It isn’t much of a departure from Bird’s last album, 2007’s Armchair Apocrypha, but Noble Beast is so much more of a hidden beauty, meant to grow on the listener with time. It is a musician’s album.  It is a headphones album. There are subtleties here that will only come out with repeated listens and only to the engaging ears. That is one of the true gifts of a good musician.

Bird has always had a knack of somehow being able to create sophisticated music, without coming across as pompous or overindulgent.

While listening to Noble Beast I can’t help be reminded, at times, of a young Rufus Wainwright. Both are very strategic songwriters who often avoid the obvious (in terms of song structure) and who both can croon with the best of them. Both could be classified as pioneers in the baroque pop movement.

Bird, however, doesn’t hide his talents and they shine as he contributes not only his voice but also his competency on the violin, guitar, mandolin, glockenspiel, and whistling. Yes, his whistling would probably make Julie Andrews envious. Just listen to the opening track, “Oh No.”

With Bird’s industry buzz at an all-time high, due in most part to the critical and underground success of his last album, Armchair Apocrypha, and a rigorous touring schedule, I have to commend Bird for creating a mid-tempoed album that at first listen doesn’t have a clearcut indie hit such as “Plasticities” or “Imitosis” off the last album. Some fans might be disappointed that the songs on Noble Beast aren’t as immediately striking as either of these two, but they will find an album with a true flow of strong songs without any disappointments.

Bird has created an album that showcases his talents and he should clearly be discussed when conversations about great modern-day singer-songwriters arise.

Album highlights include “Effigy,” “Tenuousness,” “The Privateers,” “Oh No,” and “Natural Disaster.”

– Jonathan Keller

:: Andrew Bird ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: Feb 26

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2 Comments

  1. I’m very surprised to hear this review since I thought Mr. Keller didn’t think too highly of this new album based on our initial discussions. In any case, I agree with most of the review except he completely missed the two best songs on the album (IMO): “Anonanimal” and “Not a Robot but a Ghost.”
    Mr. Keller such an omission will invariably cost you ONE valuable point and deal a mildly severe blow in my acceptance of any future professional opinions. I know it hurts now but you’ll live. Good review on the whole, though.

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