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Andrew Bird Gets Back to Basics, Ditches Words.

Andrew Bird must be so anal. But if you were a classically trained multi-instrumentalist capable of producing a symphony with your own hands, you probably would be too. And if you have ever seen Bird live you have no doubt witnessed his meticulous craftsmanship: he is not at all opposed to starting a song over if it doesn’t sound perfect. But music aside, what makes Andrew Bird so unbelievably captivating are his idiosyncratic, cerebral lyrics that necessitate looking up long forgotten SAT vocab words. That’s why news of his instrumental release, Useless Creatures, made me a bit nervous.

[mp3]: Andrew Bird – Hot Math

But I should have known better than to question the creative discretion of Andrew Bird. Useless Creatures is a temperamental mix of brooding crescendos, droning violin swells, and stomping pop. For most, this instrumental moodiness would come across as indecisive. But Bird deftly weaves the album’s highs and lows into a nuanced soundtrack for the last few days of fall.

All the energy Bird might have spent on charmingly arcane lyrics is instead redirected to create atypically lengthy songs. “You Woke Me Up” is a seven-minute epic that teeters between a dream state and semi consciousness, while Nyatati is chimey anthem for a midday stroll on a non-gearshift bicycle. “Hot Math” features distorted violin droning –think an experimental elaboration on “Fitz and Dizzyspells” –and is just as busy and quirky as any of Bird’s worded songs.

I guess you can blame the hipster in me for my skepticism towards new material from formerly- indie-now-popular indie musicians. But you can also definitely tell me to shove it, because a talented musician is a talented musician. And even though I love Andrew Bird’s brainy lyrics, he manages to say a mouthful without ever having to sing a word.

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6 comments

  • I love Useless Creatures too – but I got all excited for this “new” CD and realized I already had it from the double-album release with Noble Beast. Oh well. I’ll wait for the next one. :)

  • I’ll never understand that mentality, being skeptical towards anything from a formerly- indie-now-popular indie artist. As if their being liked by too many people somehow changes the material or something. It’s like hipsters judge things based on the artists non-popularity, rather than the works themselves. It’s just… I dunno, inexplicable and dumb. Never mind me.

  • Bird has been doing this with his albums for years. He has several instrumental albums that are essentially reimaginings of already exsiting songs.(The Fingerling albums for instance) His live shows seem to be a combination of the original and instrumental albums. There are just some artists out there that can do no wrong to my ears, and Bird is one of them.