Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha

Andrew Bird Armchair Apocrypha
Working with a band isn’t new for Andrew Bird, but after touring the world as a genuine one-man spectacle, he’s mastering the balance between the subtlety of solitude and the brash lift of camaraderie. After leading his retro-swing outfit Bowl of Fire, the classically trained Bird flew solo, creating an odd pop amalgam of old-world sounds with contemporary tension. His formidable attributes include an unearthly ability to warble, visionary skill at transforming his single violin into a majestic string section via looping, playing glockenspiel and singing. Bird’s arsenal is still present on Armchair Apocrypha and as with Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs, his group work is interesting. Bird’s recent experiment with playing guitar provides more crunch, and songs like "Imitosis” and "Plasticities” benefit from dynamic arrangements and a strong rhythm section. There’s a worldly indignation circulating within "Fiery Crash,” and "Heretics” smacks of the smarty-pants snootiness of Stephen Malkmus but there’s also youthful exuberance in "Darkmatter,” which screams forward like My Morning Jacket. The music is lush yet Bird’s voice is in focus, which is appropriate because, in terms of contemporary pop artists, he’s all on his own.

How’s this record different for you?
Every time you go into the studio and you’re singing by yourself, you start playing the microphone like an instrument. It makes you sing more intimately and can sound a bit precious to me. When I sing live I try to fill every corner of the room, and I went for that. I didn’t plan to make a bigger, louder record but that’s the way it wanted to go.

And instrumentally?
I have a very particular way I want the bass to sound. I really like the textures of dub, so I spend more energy on the bass than I do the violin. In terms of strings, it comes down to whether we want to loop or multi-track them. In this case, we went with looping, which is truer to the way we play.

The lyrics are vivid…
When I was a kid, I was into ancient history. I liked to imagine being there and the stories that would unfold. I would play the movie in my head and it would totally entertain me. With science, I liked the big picture questions — the pop science that wasn’t academic. The last record was clearly more focused on my youth; this one has a more wide-angle view of things. (Fat Possum)