Chicago native Andrew Bird’s sound is hard to define. He draws from a broad range of genres, from classical to experimental and folk, with hints of jazz and intelligent pop. With his newest solo album Noble Beast, the guitar playing, whistling, singing violin virtuoso produces sounds that are sparser and less structured than his two previous albums, 2005’s The Mysterious Production of Eggs and 2007’s Armchair Apocrypha.
His style has become increasingly looser, leaving open spaces that draw close parallels to his lyrics: eccentric and random, yet beautiful and at times exceptionally realistic and accessible.
Not many singer/songwriters have the SAT-acing vocabulary that Bird presents on the album’s fifth track “Tenuousness,” where he croons, “from proto-Sanskrit Minoans to porto-centric Lisboans/Greek Cypriots and Hobis-hots/who hang around in ports a lot.” As catchy as the lyrics are with Bird’s melody and violin plucking in the background, most listeners cannot possibly relate to the far-fetched workings of Andrew Bird’s mind. While one would think the oddities in his lyrics would drive listeners away, he draws them closer with his keen sense of sensitivity in the electronically looped, simplicity of his musical phrases.
Though Noble Beast has its flaws – including an obviously stronger first half, a missing focal point, and a sense of seclusion in the lyrics – Andrew Bird still writes material that is original and brilliant, and that brings the beauty to his Beast.
2.5 out of 4 stars