Andrew Bird
Noble Beast


3.5
great

Review

by Ryan Flatley EMERITUS
January 19th, 2009 | 22 replies | 9,045 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Would you like to play a game of truth or dare Mr. Bird?

Every moment that I thought about listening to Andrew Bird during the past few days, my mind wandered around my music library elsewhere. One can take a guess as to what recent album trumped every other album in my library, but Andrew Bird’s album Noble Beast eventually rose above, for at least a few gratifying moments. Ever since Weather Systems, Andrew Bird has been the voice of reason and elegance with his chipper slurs and brilliant wordplay. Bird’s lyrical topics have always intelligently pieced together behind swelling violins and crafty guitar riffs. In fact, Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, may just be his defining musical moment, even though his previous release, Armchair Apocrypha, certainly held its own theatrically grand reputation. However, Noble Beast takes a few steps back.

Immediately, something was missing. It wasn’t on a milk carton or even hidden within the tracks, it was lost. The lack of indie-rock riffs that lifted his previous works (found in songs like “Heretic,” “Banking on a Myth,” and “Fake Palindromes”) have vanished and are now overtaken by an overall organic sound. In fact, there are no electric guitar riffs; instead, an intimate acoustical guitar and his sweeping violin head each song. The result is mixed. When his crafty violin work is at its best, the songs tend to thrive. Notably, the thick, lusciously layered gem “Anonanimal” is genuinely breathtaking. At times, it sounds like five or six different string arrangements are occurring at once and it shows how adequate Bird has become as looping what he plays. “Anonanimal” is capped off by playful clapping and wordplay, ‘see a sea anemone / the enemy / see a sea anemone / that’ll be the end of me.’ Musical bliss.

“Oh No” and “Masterfade” whistle along, one in a whimsical nature while the other giddily dances. The electronically enhanced “Not A Robot, But A Ghost” is a nice little pick-me-up containing a previous quirky electronic work by Dosh as a sample. On the triumphant side of things, the anti-material/personal security undertone of reworked “The Privateers” (formerly “The Confession” on a previous Andrew Bird album) leads that of a victory parade. Slowly building, percussion clacks and chimes away until a roar from Bird’s voice ignites the tune into a simple, cheerful song. And as said before, “Anonanimal” is as complex and complete as it gets, but not enough to be the song that puts Noble Beast over the hump.

This is not to say the rest of Noble Beast is necessarily bad, but more or less overdrawn. In fact, it is hard to spot the sole reason, but it all feels a degree or two off. Each track, given individual attention, finds itself to be a new treasure behind Bird’s loop-based brilliance. However, as the album plays as a collective whole, tracks are lost and hardly memorable or distinguished. Exceptions do occur, but otherwise remains a blur.

There is a certain level of, ‘how does this NOT work?,’ that baffles my mind. Perhaps the problem is Andrew Bird’s consistent barrage of cutesy lyrical arrangements, the same arrangements that wrap my head and hang it out to dry. With Noble Beast, time stands still for a brief moment until a song eventually hits a certain plateau, but sometimes that plateau can be too distant. Andrew Bird played it safe, and the resultant appears the same. Meanwhile, I will be looking for an album in my library that decided to take a risk.



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user ratings (189)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
rmill3r (4)
Noble Beast is a test, a test to prove that, sometimes, sounding good is better than simply getting ...

elgaberino (4)
Andrew Bird: always getting better at being Andrew Bird...

Keelan H. EMERITUS (4)
Lousy Smarch weather....


Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the younger get older

the older get younger

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2009



15728 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

eh this is pretty sleepy. your last point sums it up perfectly

Digging: Alvvays - Alvvays

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 19th 2009



3743 Comments


this is boringThis Message Edited On 01.19.09

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

u said the album rules

and now this

you don't love me

joshuatree
Emeritus
January 19th 2009



3743 Comments


i got this and was like whoa this rules
and then i stopped liking it as much

AtavanHalen
January 19th 2009



17927 Comments


I liked Armchair, so I'll definitely pick this up.

thebhoy
Emeritus
January 19th 2009



4459 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Need to give this a few more listens. It isn't as poppy as his past stuff for sure. There is a lot more classically influenced violin, which I like. So far I really like this and am closer to Chan's rating of a 4 then anything else.

plane
Staff Reviewer
January 19th 2009



6092 Comments


Cannot get into this.

Spare
January 20th 2009



5270 Comments


I like Andrew Bird. May or may not buy this.

artofpretension
January 20th 2009



49 Comments


lovin this review. andrew bird is the vanilla of indie flavor, when really he should be moving on to strawberry or something. but i'll give it shot.

AtavanHalen
January 20th 2009



17927 Comments


andrew bird is the vanilla of indie flavor, when really he should be moving on to strawberry or something

That's actually quite a funny analogy.

jrowa001
January 20th 2009



8750 Comments


ill be getting this soon since i like his other albums

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i bought the 2-disc edition with Useless Creatures today. it's a ridiculously awesome package.


IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 23rd 2009



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I heard the packaging is awesome, I am going to buy this when I go buy MMP in a few daysThis Message Edited On 01.23.09

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 24th 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fucking borders man, it was 30 bucks

the regular one is on sale for 12 tho

still, i'd say the one i got was worth 30 bucks

BroRape
January 28th 2009



803 Comments


i've been meaning to get into andrew bird, but i've been told he's boring. which album should i get?

gaslightanthem
January 28th 2009



5209 Comments


armchair is so good get that

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
January 29th 2009



4927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

what, no, get The Mysterious Production of Eggs

Voytek
February 5th 2009



139 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I was so dissapointed with this album.

thunderzstruck
February 20th 2009



148 Comments


On my first listen of this album and I find "Effigy" to be brilliant. The song is beyond beautiful, especially the violin part halfway through the song

Production of Eggs is still my favorite album by him. I hope his next album picks up a little bit



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