Andrew Bird Break it Yourself

Andrew Bird Break it Yourself
On his last album, 2009's Noble Beast, Andrew Bird perfected the folk-meets-baroque pop style he and artists like Sufjan Stevens had been toying with over the last ten years. But in the ensuing years, the style has developed a crowded field of imitators, making the leap from dusty record shops to film soundtracks and public radio broadcasts. Stevens all but abandoned his previous sound on his latest release, alienating many of his fans in the process. But Andrew Bird has found a middle road with Break It Yourself. The album was recorded in a single week, mostly live-off-the-floor, with Bird's usual backing trio. As such, it lacks the grandiose, precious qualities of past work, yet manages to feel even more intimate than previous efforts. Of course, Bird's ability to pen a hook that stands out even in the densest arrangements remains. Opener "Desperation Breeds…" boasts his typical interplay between guitar, plucked and bowed violin, and piano, while "Eyeoneye" marries Bird's trademark whistle to surprisingly rocking guitar, bass and drum accompaniment. Bird tapped St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) to share vocal duties on "Lusitania," yet curiously, not her virtuosic guitar skills. Regardless, Bird has succeeded in pushing forward artistically without losing the qualities that make his music unique. (Mom + Pop)