New Andrew Bird album more of the same (AKA beautiful music)

The Midwestern Crooner proves that some things shouldn’t be changed

Photo courtesy Fat Possum records

Ashley Goetz

Photo courtesy Fat Possum records

WHO: Andrew Bird WHAT: Noble Beast WHEN: April 11, 2009 WHERE The State Theatre No one expects brazen and trail-blazing experimentalism from Andrew BirdâÄôs fourth solo studio effort, âÄúNoble Beast.âÄù By this point, fans of the homegrown Midwestern crooner have come to both hope and anticipate consistent and polished quality from a Bird album. Immune to passing fancies, newfangled bandwagons or cheap stylistic awakenings, Andrew Bird has a good thing going and seems to see no advantage in fudging it up through reinvention. âÄúNoble Beast,âÄù which dropped Jan. 20, is a welcome addition to the Bird catalogue, and although the album mostly steers clear of uncharted waters, it still somehow remains both captivating and new. The album gets off to a safely enthusiastic start with its opening track âÄúOh No,âÄù a balance of tried and tested Bird techniques as well as a catchy toe-tapping loop reminiscent of the more pop driven tunes on 2007âÄôs âÄúArmchair Apocrypha.âÄù He even touches base on contemporary fashion with a reference to a trendy new type of undies when he croons âÄúwith nothing but a onesie and a veil.âÄù Although it remains securely traditional, âÄúNoble BeastâÄù wonâÄôt disappoint listeners looking for a new side of Bird. Both âÄúNomenclatureâÄù and âÄúNot a Robot, But a GhostâÄù offer a new face to the artistâÄôs music; the latter being carried largely by a beat reminiscent of RadioheadâÄôs latest sound. Examining his musical techniques, the album delivers a continuation of BirdâÄôs favorite methods: folksy Djangoesque guitar/violin duality, grandiose whistling and that open-air-at-night feel which lends his music so well to live performance. âÄúNoble BeastâÄù may not show Bird entering a new era of music-making, but it does make it clear that his type of music has become a melancholy, clever and lovely brand.