My introduction to Andrew Bird was while browsing the shelves of the small and rather wonderful record store People Independent Music of Guildford, Surrey. A superb Indie store packed with a range of genres and always something interesting or new, if you’re ever in the area check it out, it’s well worth a look. So, I’m standing there, browsing the Alternative/Indie section, I have one CD in hand, probably all I’m going to spend today and then this song kicks up, it’s beautiful, it reminds me of the Fleet Foxes, with a little Ryan Adams, but with a whole lot of violin and a little more subtlety, it’s sort of quirky as well. The guy next to me leans over to the counter and asks “Who is this?”, to which the girl replies with a smile “It’s Andrew Bird’s new album”, “Hmm…” the customer ponders for all of half a second, “I’ll take one!”. Handing the CD over in my hand to pay I echo, “You know what, I’ll take one as well”.
It was one of those moments I had to hear more on my own stereo, if I hadn’t bought that album there and then I’d be a mug. That’s a great start, first track of the new album and I’m totally sold, as was my fellow customer. I’m happy to report Break It Yourself delivers. I’d heard Birds name thrown around before, I’d heard his outstanding whistling skills (seriously, check it out – this song also features on this album), but never taken the time to check out his music properly. I was pleasantly surprised to find a sound that mixes beautiful strings with soft guitars and rock elements, arranged with just enough oddities to keep it fresh. It straddles modern acoustic songwriting and traditional folk music pretty comfortably and never feels like an unnatural or forced combination. Desperation Breeds elevates itself to one of my favourite album openers of the year beginning slow and brooding before bursting into life with beautiful flourishes of violin. These frequent the album and compliment most songs bringing the music alive with a bright and vibrant feel. The aforementioned whistling is there and is as excellent as ever, Bird really does have some skills and no matter what he is playing it all comes together so perfectly well with a natural and effortless flow. The short recording window and live studio recording only helps to give the album the organic, natural sound is presents. Pacing is graceful and mixes the uplifting with the more gentle mellow tracks.
The only complaints I have are aimed at the latter half which drags slightly before soaring again with the absolutely superb Hole in the Ocean Floor. It never becomes wearisome however and overall it can be taken as a very well rounded full-length. It’s worth keeping in mind that this is my first Andrew Bird album so I cannot compare it to previous releases, but it’s definitely a great place to start and I can safely say I’ve come away a fan.
Andrew lacks a website at the moment but check him out on facebook if you want to keep up with news and tour info.