Andrew Bird
The Mysterious Production Of Eggs


4.0
excellent

Review

by Amanda Murray STAFF
June 22nd, 2006 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


In the waning days of 2005, the Alternative & Indie forum on mx had a poll: name your favourite Bird-related artist. At the time, I confidently chose the Byrds. Little did I know the "other" option would hold such allure only a few months later. For in those interim months, my bird-related palette expanded to include the appropriately-surnamed Andrew Bird. I picked up Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs after reading Zebra's inimitable review, originally assuming that the Mysterious Production of Eggs was the best-named backing band in history rather than a puzzling album title.

A former revival swing participant, Bird collaborated with the Squirrel Nut Zippers in his earliest days as a recording artist. On Eggs, his latest release, he has entirely shed the big-band affectations and instead firmly implanted himself in the indie music realm, something he had been inching toward since the release of his first solo release in the mid-90s. What separates him from the slew of indie singer/songwriters pervading the music scene at present are his undeniable jazz influences. While many of his contemporaries preach minimalism and perform within a narrow genre scope, he fuses jazz, indie and folk for ideal effect. Additionally, Bird doesn't limit his instrumentation to voice and guitar; instead, he uses his virtuosic abilities as a violinist and whistler abundantly, with chilling results. His voice ranges from soothing to startling, but in every case it suits the mood of the song at hand.

On the introductory song, a fluid and sombre instrumental, it becomes clear that this is not a typical, middling album. The instrumentation is sophisticated yet each part is performed airily. The piece crescendos before fading into "Sovay", a darkly mellow song which where the music focuses in on a simplistic guitar pattern and is subdued in most other areas before a final outburst, a far cry from his more refined work, but the restraint works just as well for Bird. The first half of the album is appealingly consistent, with no weak or lacklustre songs to be found. "A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left" features Bird at his whistling best; "Fake Palindromes" shifts up the tempo and presents a convincing argument for the use of violin as a rock instrument.

The second half of the record is less impressive and the songs begin to blend. "MX Missiles" and "Masterfade" are highlights, but nothing else in the last half is particularly of note. This is probably the biggest weakness of the album - if overplayed, each song becomes indistinguishable from the next and the need for something more palpable dawns. While initially the album may not be enthralling to all, like most mellow albums it is a grower and by the third or fourth round through, the charm of the record is alarmingly apparent. Just don't attempt to listen to it on repeat, or the former problem of unintentional amalgamation will emerge.

The Mysterious Production of Eggs is a record which offers breezy, whimsical music and in the next breath transforms to muted lamentation, but both extremes are equally captivating and hypnotic. On the surface his output does not seem complicated or overlayered, but this is more a result of his effortless playing and laid-back approach rather than it actually being a simple and basic record. While you may walk away from Eggs ready to show off your whistling skills to friends, or decide to pick up a violin because it can't be that hard, don't be fooled. Bird is indeed a genius at work.

For fans of Sufjan Stevens and similar quirky indie folk music, Andrew Bird is required listening. His other albums delve further into swing, jazz and lounge music, and while Eggs is his most recent effort it is probably his most accessible and most accomplished in terms of consistency and flow.

I've already missed my chance to pick Bird as my favourite feathered friend, but should the opportunity arise to select a preferred performed named Andrew, I doubt my answer will take much deliberation.



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user ratings (306)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Bron-Yr-Aur
June 22nd 2006


4405 Comments


Good review.

Kingofdudes
June 22nd 2006


294 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I saw a couple minutes of this guy's set at Bonnaroo

Med57
Moderator
June 22nd 2006


1001 Comments


You and Zebra both seem to be quite the fans of this, so I really should check this out (particularly as I like the sort of music as well, apart from Sufjan). Very nice review, as always.

Zebra
Moderator
June 22nd 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, I prefer listening to Bird rather then Sufjan. I've actually been listening to Weather Systems as of late and I think it is superier to this album. I didn't realize that Andrew collaborated with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, it's kind of odd since they're a retro, 60's swing band.

morrissey
Moderator
June 22nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah if you listen to his earlier solo albums like Oh! The Grandeur swing is a huge influence, but not so much now.

Zebra
Moderator
June 22nd 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You should really check out the Squirrel Nut Zippers if you already haven't, Hot is such a great album.

morrissey
Moderator
June 22nd 2006


1688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think I've heard them, but I'm a pretty big fan of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Brian Setzer etc. so I'm positive I will like them. Based on what I've read and your recommendation,Hot is a good choice, I'll add it to my list.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
March 5th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

there will be snacks.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
September 12th 2008


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I still get a warm feeling inside after every listen

Bleak123
September 12th 2008


1902 Comments


Really need to hear this.

sadmafioso
September 12th 2008


318 Comments


andrew bird is so fucking goddamn good

Bleak123
September 12th 2008


1902 Comments


hence I "really need to hear this" ;)



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