Artist: Andrew Bird
Title: “Break it Yourself”
Format: NPR First Listen (Spotify)
“Break it Yourself,” Andrew Bird’s sixth studio album, begins in medias res – the first note of opener “Desperation Breeds . . .” is a discordant clang, followed by a meandering, reaching section and then a whispered discovery of what builds into the song’s melody.
It sets the mood for “Break,” which finds Bird trying to press old tropes in new directions. There’s a warmth that carries throughout the record, showing a continuing grasp of tone and setting that was apparent on 2009′s “Noble Beast.”
Gone are the angular, swirling compositions that made up pieces on “The Mysterious Production of Eggs” or “Armchair Apocrypha.” “Break” is a lush record, a word often ascribed to Bird’s work, perhaps because he’s so associated with the violin, on which he’s classically trained.
The production is inviting and open, with “Danse Carribe” coalescing into a light folk ramble led by Bird’s whistling. “Break it Yourself” shows an evolved songwriter who continues to grow and grasp his craft, but also somehow suggests that we may not yet have seen the best from Bird.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.