With such success from his 2007 release “Armchair Apocrypha,” many were convinced that his newest album would not meet expectations. Perhaps this album is more constrained to the infinite hits of his last; however, “Noble Beast” still lives up to its expectations. Considering the level of talent that Bird holds, that’s pretty damn good.
Bird is an expert in instrumentals. A classically trained violinist and swing-jazz musician, his folksy, jazzy tunes are saturated with perfect loops, instrumental buildups and violins breaking in their crescendo. Songs like “Souverian” flawlessly channel his skill as trickles of thick piano correlate with cold cymbal crashes and bold stomps.
One of the best tracks on the album, “Effigy,” showcases an impressive combination of vocals, lyrics and instrumentals. The first full minute is entirely composed of layered strings, which then transition into Bird’s mesmerizing voice. The male-female duet sings to the backdrop of a waltz-like melody that sounds richer than usual.
In addition to instrumentals, his lyrical choice is eerily addictive and ingenious. For example, on the second track, “Masterswarm,” the lyrical style is reminiscent of spoken word as he effortlessly sings, “Oh and the young in their larval state, orchestrating plays / Investments of translucent alabaster.”
His play on words is most evident on this track and the famous “Anonanimal,” as well. The first half of “Masterswarm” talks about a “master swarm” which then turns into a “master’s arm” that feels the “arms of a master” by the second half.
In “Anonanimal,” an attempt to sing along will leave listeners tongue-twisted yet amazed at Bird’s wit. Beginning with “I see a sea anemone / the enemy see a sea anemone” and ending with “Anomalous appendages / anonanimal / a non animal” proves the case in point.
With closer observation, listeners will notice Bird’s transitions throughout the album and in the songs. The album is divided into three sections by the tracks, “Oh No,” “Ouo” and “On ho!” which correlate with an introduction, intermission and exitlude. “Effigy” also has an intro and an end, resulting in a track with almost two songs in it.
Although a couple tracks, such as “Fitz and the Dizzyspells,” sound a bit “pop”-ish, Bird reminds fans that it is his talent that got him this far. Listeners are reminded of just how amazing of a violinist he is in tracks like “On ho!” and “Unfolding Fans,” where his vocals are almost entirely omitted.
He also displays another talent: whistling. Other than vocals and violin breaks, whistling is another characteristic that always makes its way to every Andrew Bird album. As if half man, half bird (forgive the pun), his whistling might as well be an instrument in itself.
Though few may think that “Noble Beast” is not as good as his last album, the fact of the matter is that Bird provides consistent and strong tracks that have few to no hiccups. There are no obnoxious or outlandish tracks that suggest Bird tries too hard. Rather, his album illustrates an effortless and successful approach at showcasing great talent. With intricate layers and careful production, “Noble Beast” will surely be a staple to add to the collection of longtime fans and new listeners.
Filed Under: A & E