Andrew Bird
Noble Beast


4.0
excellent

Review

by rmill3r USER (26 Reviews)
February 22nd, 2011 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Noble Beast is a test, a test to prove that, sometimes, sounding good is better than simply getting it right.

For some, listening to Andrew Bird's Noble Beast might be the equivalent of taking a peek at a musician's diary, complete with unfinished thoughts and sometimes incoherent scrawling. Noble Beast is riddled with high-brow diction, personal narrative and reserved introspection, layered over with rustic violins, mandolins and--of course--whistlin' harmonies. Bird takes his personal narrative to such a deep level of introspection that some might find it monotonous or exhausting, while others might simply find it enjoyable, a welcome bit of recuperation from overly haughty works of "fine art."

Noble Beast is as much an experience as it is an album. Sort of similar to the likes of Explosion in the Sky's The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place or Radiohead's Kid A; this album invites the listener to enjoy the composition in its own right. Bird has taken language and morphed it into something fairly unrecognizable. Sometimes Bird's first-person narration takes a sensory, haunting tone, such as the line "So they took me to the hospital / They put my body through a scan" on "Masterswarm," and other times it sounds a little more absurd ("Squint your eyes and no one dies or goes to jail" on "Oh No").

What might deter some listeners from this album is the nonsensical tone that it sometimes takes. No matter how hard you work it out, some of the lyrics might not have any deeper meaning to them then the cool sounds they make when sung together. Bird has always taken pleasure in playing around with high-brow diction, and it's especially true on Noble Beast. Bird suggests that the way the song is put together and the way the words sound together is more important than what they're supposed to mean. His constantly shifting tone and his sometimes unfinished lines carry such importance simply in the way he presents them. Halfway through the album on "Nomenclature," Bird tells the listener just that, as if it was a thesis statement. He sings, "Sometimes we've got to play to play . . . Now the colors have bled to gray / To ones that don't exist in nature," and it's as if he's telling us outright that sometimes the point of life is to just play around and enjoy the sounds--not analyze and beat the hell out of them.

The music on Noble Beast is mostly the same as always. Sadly, he hasn't quite fully returned to the jazzier side of The Swimming Hour, but still, his music is an eclectic mix of rock, folk, jazz and ballads. He even adds a little bit of electronic beats on "Not a Robot, But a Ghost," still layered over with violins and guitars, just for good measure. Generally, the music moves slowly just like the lyrics. It's paced well, and not thrown in your face all at once. Time changes and tonal shifts come through late on some of the songs, which make for surprising and emotionally fulfilling moments.

"Anonanimal" is a great representation of the "sound-over-meaning" aspect of this album. When Bird sings, "See a sea anemone, the enemy see a sea anemone / And that'll be the end of me, that'll be the end of me / While the vicious fish was caught unawares in the tenderest of tendrils," there could be some deep meaning you could conjure up from within it, but the point is that it sounds good. It's poetic in its composition and execution. Bird doesn't want you to dissect his album. He wants you to listen to it. And hopefully by the end--surely, if you're a patient and careful listener--you will have enjoyed it, too.



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Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
elgaberino (4)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
rmill3r
February 22nd 2011


167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really wanted to review The King of Limbs . . . but this website has killed that one dead.

iSkane
February 22nd 2011


858 Comments


Meh, review it anyway. I made the mistake of reviewing Devil and God...last year. So, you kind of know how that one turned out for me. Nice review.

DinosaurJones
February 22nd 2011


491 Comments


"Noble Best" in summary should be "Noble Beast"

Or... should it? You switch between "Best" and "Beast" throughout the entire review O.o

WashboardSuds
February 22nd 2011


5043 Comments


who is this guy?

anyway, came to read the review, which gets a pos from washboard. your welcome, no more bitching in someone else's reivews

Digging: Zodiac (VASE) - Zodiac

rmill3r
February 22nd 2011


167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not sure how that got by me. Thanks for pointing it out!

iFghtffyrdmns
February 22nd 2011


7047 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fantastic read, pos'd.
and most importantly, thank you for not reviewing the king of limbs.
I like this record a lot, sits somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 for me.

aok
February 22nd 2011


4461 Comments


solid review man, pos. heard this guy's name floating around a bit, any ideas on where to start off on him (ie an album progression or a couple of hooks)?

(to them then the cool should be than the cool) => maybe a little wordy at times, but probly better than what i put up on here though. cheers

WatchItExplode
February 22nd 2011


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Noble beast is solid but far from Bird's best. I have no idea what that summary means but whatevs good review otherwise etc.

mvdu
February 23rd 2011


612 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Pos. Definitely recommended for singer/songwriter fans.

rmill3r
February 23rd 2011


167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@aokuneff The Swimming Hour is really good. Kind of odd, but probably my favorite. Otherwise, this one.

@WatchItExplode Really? It just means something can be worthy for its musical quality rather than its theme or meaning. You don't think that came across?

WatchItExplode
February 23rd 2011


3314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I was being facetious Mr. Miller. It comes across, but only after reading the rest of the review. TBH I wouldn't have read it if you weren't writing about an artist I really like.

I can appreciate your writing skills, but a little quip or more direct account of your review's contents would better serve to draw in the reader. IMO of course.

rmill3r
February 23rd 2011


167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

ohhhhhh

vanderb0b
February 23rd 2011


3473 Comments


Haven't heard this one yet, but Bird is fantastic; The Mysterious Production Of Eggs is particularly nice.



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