x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

There is not a single misstep on Andrew Bird's Break it Yourself

For an artist who painstakingly crafts arcane sounds into complex song structures, Andrew Bird's music really shouldn't feel this effortless.

Break It Yourself
Mom+Pop
****

For an artist who painstakingly crafts arcane sounds into complex song structures, Andrew Bird's music really shouldn't feel this effortless. The latest solo LP from the prolific US singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist spans an entire hour, yet it seems to float by like a leaf on a warm breeze.

The major characteristics of one of his latter albums, Noble Beast, also grace this latest collection of indie-folk; yearning Appalachian strings, laid-back rhythms and a tone that constantly veers between melancholy and optimism.

Towards the beginning of the record, the upbeat numbers Danse Carribe, Give it Away and Eyeoneye show Bird almost reaching a stomp, the latter even featuring an electric guitar and evoking the likes of Bright Eyes or early REM. Things quickly settle down on the mournful Lazy Projector, a slow lament on which luscious strings veer with the singer's signature whistle. The heady Lusitania sees Bird joined by St Vincent's Annie Clark and features a beautifully restrained country vocal from the rock songstress.

Closing with the instrumental Belles – a series of ethereal chimes set against a woozy, atmospheric backdrop of strings – there isn't a single misstep to be found on the record, even if it sometimes feels a little low-stakes. Intentionally or otherwise, Break It Yourself seems more restrained than its predecessor, with nothing quite as catchy as the 2009 LP's Oh No, and nothing quite as bizarre as Not A Robot, But A Ghost, but if this more reserved album is what the future holds for Bird, then it's no bad thing.