eMusic Review 0
Noble Beast, Andrew Bird's eighth studio LP, is not an entirely unfamiliar jaunt: it boasts rich, textured (and, in this case, mostly acoustic) arrangements, whistling, strings, loops of sound, rhythms by the percussionist Martin Dosh and precisely metered lyrics that sound as if they were plucked from a botany textbook. Recorded in Nashville with the producer Mark Nevers (who first partnered with Bird for 2003's Weather Systems), Noble Beast is Bird perfecting a formula — fluttery, odd folk-pop that soars and twitches like a bumblebee intent on fresh pollen.
Still, even though Bird's melodies are easy and warm, there's an underlying tension to Noble Beast's finest tracks ("Oh no," "Effigy") that keeps the record from feeling too facile. Bird's taut, almost persnickety arrangements rely on delicacy and cohesion, each bit slotted into the next like a mansion crafted from Lincoln logs (Bird, never short on self-awareness, even dubbed one track "Tenuousness"). On "Anoanimal," violin (both plucked and played) swirls around Bird's muddled vocals, which feel almost pre-linguistic — as always, Bird is more concerned with the sound of his language than its meaning, and Noble Beast is, above all, a sound collage of impressive proportions. And, as with any good puzzle,… read more »