Highlights: Give It Away, Eyeoneye, Lazy Projector, Sifters
The best thing about Andrew Bird’s albums (latest in any case) is that they feel like a true musical journey. There’s something in that scope, that subtle diversity, that intricate instrumentation that makes the songs on Break It Yourself inhabit their own special world. Somewhat whimsical and almost self-consciously tasteful and sophisticated – but always incredibly addictive and compelling.
Beautiful stuff – as long as you get past that cynical stage where you consider these songs boring, samey, monotonous. Maybe all it takes is an extra effort to acknowledge the resonance of Andrew’s voice and discover the understated, fragile brilliance of these melodies. But it’s all in there, amid the gentle fingerpicking of guitars, delicate violins, whistles, exquisite sound effects, etc. I wouldn’t say there’s any prevailing mood here, but the fact that the albums feels so different (you could even say sprawling) is certainly a bonus.
14 tracks this time, including 3 instrumentals. And the more I listen to Break It Yourself, the more charm these songs reveal. The tropical, free-floating, Astral Weeks-like loveliness of “Danse Carribe”, the bluesy, lazy charm of “Lazy Projector”, the ecstatic toe-tapping cheerfulness of “Give It Away”, the poetic, expressive folksiness of “Sifters” (which greatly reminded me of Johnny Flynn’s amazing debut from 2008). There’s probably just one song here that hasn’t won me over yet – sadly, it’s also the record’s longest track, the 8-minute long atmospheric, violin-based ballad called “Hole In The Ocean Floor”. There’s something quite lovely going on there, obviously, but it’s all too watery and uneventful.
But overall it’s another quiet, seemingly unassuming triumph from Mr Bird. No, Break It Yourself doesn’t quite reach the songwriting heights of his 2005 indie masterwork, The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, but all the same: it’s a clear contender for that inevitable end of year list.