Artist: Andrew Bird
Album: Noble Beast
Label: Fat Possum Records
While some musicians may consider a guitar solo here and there, Andrew Bird prefers to whistle.
And since he’s whistling, consider me blown away. His newest album, Noble Beast, channels everything he learned from being a classical violinist, jazz musician and starving rock star into one comprehensive and diverse piece. He may start a song out with some beautiful overlapping string number he learned back at Northwestern University – but he sure as hell won’t end it that way.
Take the song “Souverian,” which begins with Bird’s signature upbeat whistled melody, but evolves into a heartbreaking and chilling hymn. The chorus repeats in each different section of the song with the same lyrics: “Birds will sing / still my lover won’t return to me / You promise spring / But still my love won’t return to me.”
While I initially disliked the mismatched chorus, it grew on me once I listened to those lyrics. At that point, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would leave Andrew Bird.
The only song I didn’t like was “Nomenclature,” which seemed scattered and slightly hasty. But even so, it was part of a showcase of the many different sounds, styles and melodies Bird explores throughout the album.
Noble Beast seems more polished than his past works, Armchair Apocrypha and The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It’s almost as if he took the ghosts of his past songs and brought them back to life in a really slammin‘ body. The vocals in “Masterswarm” and “Anoanimal” are more operatic in valor, but still sound sweet with the delicate strings in accompaniment. As a whole, it’s clear that Noble Beast is the product of Bird’s most careful and refined efforts.
Noble Beast will be released Jan. 20.
Give these tracks a listen: “Oh No,” “Effigy”
For fans of: Peter Bjorn & John, Sufjan Stevens, Radiohead
– Lauren Steussy