Review 5-ish: Andrew Bird (Part 1 of whatever)

Posted on August 1, 2011

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Note: This post is filled with random pics I took with my Vistaquest while poking about Shanghai, because I’ve not finished reviewing all the Andrew Bird albums that fell into my hands and so I can’t Google him – don’t want to spoil the surprise for myself, too.

Score one for true love!

Method of choosing: Opened folder, and just clicked whatever my eye fell on first. That, apparently, was the word “Bird”.

Albums available: Music of Hair (1996), Thrills (1998), Oh! The Grandeur (1999), The Swimming Hour (2001), Weather Systems (2003), The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005), Fingerlings 3 (2006), Armchair Apocrypha, Noble Beast

 

Hypothesis:

I’m a little biased because I have heard some of his stuff before. I remember a whiny and tinny sound, rather unremarkable. But when I made a less-than-enthusiastic comment about Mr Bird to a very musically-knowledgable friend, he sighed and replied in a rather deliberately controlled manner, “Well, that’s… unfortunate.”

Thus my hypothesis about Andrew Bird is that he will be eccentric (based on actual name, plus name of albums, which I absolutely love, anyhow) and Beck-ian but more folksy, and underwhelmingly awesome. He’ll probably grow on me. I hope. But what a friggin lot of albums to review!

 

Actual music:

Music of Hair starts off with bagpipes. Sigh. A couple of tracks down, the bagpipes persist. Bird’s voice is soft and has a somewhat intangible quality to it, a little bit like candy floss. I hear it but I don’t GET it. And at times this sounds like a quiet and tired Floggin Molly. And how come the bagpipes don’t stop? I’m now picturing wooden trestle tables and huge frothy mugs of beer and buxom red-haired women busting out of their blouses. (An excellent image, one which pleases me tremendously on all counts.) Well, all I can say is that I was right about the tinny indistinguishable sound. I must’ve had the volume dial turned down and made the instrumentals sound like mosquitoes buzzing.

I bet Andrew Bird is a tiny man with a big handle-bar moustache. And long pale skilful fingers. And a deathly-devoted female fan base.

Ok some singing has started. And it’s boring. Like really, really dull. I can tell the lyrics must be sumpthin’ else, but the melody kills me with its dreariness.

What should I do? There’re NINE albums to get through! My beer-bearing red-haired beauties have dissipated into guitar-strumming with a skinny weedy dude by the dying embers of a campfire that can’t keep away the mosquitoes. Shitfuck.

I’m on the 8th track of Music of Hair AND IT SOUNDS LIKE I NEVER LEFT THE FIRST ONE. I KNOW. I’M GETTING SHOUTY. Sorry I know I must be offending legions of people here, but – oh, boy.

…..Well I can say for sure his fingers must be frighteningly fast.

Oh, joy. “Song of Foot” is a tasty bit of canape. Slightly trippy and edgy but still overall folksy and low-key. And now things are starting to sound jazzy (“Minor Beatrice”). Most interesting. And suddenly – as I read The Human Stain, I hear silence. It ends! Now – on to the next album. I hope it’s better. No, that doesn’t matter at all. I just hope it’s different.

 

Next!!

Presenting… Thrills.

Excellent! “Minor Stab” is a rich, lush jazz-age opening with Prohibition-era singing. “Some people like to roast a leg of lamb… we’ll all be roasting goats in the end.” Mmmm. Hungry. Also, I am completely, completely digging this track.

The next track, “Ideas of Spring”, sells me immediately with its opening line: “Some say April is the cruellest….” I read The Wasteland when I was 14 and thought it was an absolute masterpiece. I’ve since read it hundreds of times, and its multiple annotations, and it still does not fail to make me catch my breath. It doesn’t define my existence the way The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufock does, but it is still uncomparable in scope and tonal richness.

Well, ten songs down, I find that I’m really enjoying this album. He’s now singing about “a dog with a nasal disease”. Hehehe. The last few songs are twangy country music. Quite enjoyable. The beer ladies and frothy mugs are back, but this time they’re putting their backs into it. Yarrr! “Some of these days, you miss your honey, you know you’re going to miss me, sweet darling I’m going a-waaay.”

Yes Andrew, I will miss you if you keep making albums like this.

Stay tuned for Oh! The Grandeur, The Swimming Hour, Weather Systems, and… well everything else, basically.

And watch out for the killer pandas!

Posted in: Andrew Bird, Review