Noble Beast - Andrew Bird
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
  1. Bird and his 10 collaborators use sound the way the impressionists daubed paint, layering elegiac violin melodies with pattering plucked notes, fuzzy or jangly guitar, clip-clop percussion, clicks and drones to create music that might be straightforwardly folky, brightly poppy or more experimental, but is always vivid and engaging.
  2. Where Andrew Bird succeeds so fervently with Noble Beast is in endowing it a vital, quixotic sense of humanity.
  3. It's less mopey than Bright Eyes, less pompous than Sufjan Stevens and better than almost everything else. [Feb 2009, p.103]
  4. About a third of Noble Beast coasts along like this, generating an amiable atmosphere while advancing the album's contemplations of evolution and the loss of self. But then Bird arrives at a song like 'Fitz And The Dizzyspells', or 'Anonanimal', and suddenly Noble Beast turns into a higher form of pop music, so beautifully, horrifyingly evolved.
  5. 80
    It may lack the wrong-footing eclecticism that made his name, but makes up for that in pure melodic charm. [Mar 2009, p.109]
  6. 80
    There’s a sense throughout that Bird’s head is engaged in a battle with his heart, as if aware that there’s a pop masterpiece squatting on the far horizons of his intuition.
  7. Whatever romance he lacks in the textual medium he more than makes up for in melody.
  8. He's never been quite so on top of his game or quite so blessed with melodic magic. [Mar 2009, p.100]
  9. With its cuteness and shimmying pace, the opener 'Oh No' gets your seat in the chair, while the other tracks keep you there.
  10. Bird is in full control and evokes his The Swimming Hour and everyone’s favorite, Mysterious Production of Eggs, days; those days where he did everything on his own. All of the aforementioned allows him to present one of his best albums to date.
  11. It has a warm, uncertain humanity that its predecessors, for all their depth and beauty, did not: it scans as genuine, music made from necessity rather than from the impulse of an extraordinary showman.
  12. The man's wordsmithing is even headier than his beautiful songs.
  13. Whatever the sound, his songs are unfailingly catchy, and his smart lyrics and lovely melodies make them stand out even when they're understated.
  14. With Noble Beast, Bird proves that he's a whistling Renaissance man for modern times.
  15. The sometimes drifting song structures, frequent tonal shifts, odd lyrics, and interludes presented a stuffed canvas full of interesting sounds that didn't seem to have a focal point, didn't seem to have a place where you were supposed to enter the composition. Eventually, however, everything fell into place.
  16. Noble Beast veers off into a cheerily nonspecific world of jangly guitars and meandering melodies that evoke everyone from Okkervil River to Radiohead without ever making an impact of their own.
  17. Beast is his most instantly inviting album by far and vividly underscores his skills as a producer.
  18. This is all a lot of hand-wringing over very little: Noble Beast is still an amazing record, Bird’s fourth in a row (if one counts the Soldier On EP), with only those tiny spots where the rest of the world bleeds through. [Winter 2009]
  19. 70
    Some songs are all middle, stuck on what might be mere bridges by, say, Rufus Wainwright or Paul Simon. Yet Bird’s open-field poetics do let a wider world creep in, from the corruption of ecosystems to the isolation that can afflict a touring musician or a declining leader alike.
  20. Here, he takes another leap, fusing Armchair's emotive indie rock with the chamber-music experimentalism of his early recordings.
  21. 70
    With his SAT-acing vocabulary, Bird still rocks some of the best rhymes in the game, cobbling together his own foreign language from arcane terms.
  22. Although it’s undoubtedly consistent and enjoyable, these are the kind of adjectives that restrain this established songwriter from truly challenging or surprising his audience.
  23. With Noble Beast, time stands still for a brief moment until a song eventually hits a certain plateau, but sometimes that plateau can be too distant.
  24. Noble Beast overcomplicates what should be a simpler formula; the meat is in Bird’s performances, the virtuoso skills at his disposal, not the antiseptic display of distorted guitar tones that the album’s best song unfortunately resorts to in its final section.
  25. Poetry has always been another tool in his box, but here more than ever, it seems that the lyrics serve as an instrument, not to be separated from the rest of the music, and helping to create a seamless but showy overall sound.
  26. There certainly isn't a lack of beautifully crafted, well produced music on this release, but if you're looking for a full plate of pop-inspired power ballads, stick to the last two discs.
  27. Similar to witnessing Bird's high-wire concert act, in which he deftly loops figures from guitar, violin, and vocals to create living sound colleges of pop songs, one comes away from Noble Beast feeling more impressed than moved.
  28. Bird probably could have stood to cull a few of the weaker numbers, and with the additional room, might have reworked a few of the selections from Useless Creatures into experimental pop songs, thereby tempering his lack of risk taking on Noble Beast.
  29. There are some sweet la-la-la bits and a bit of cheery whistling, but nothing jarring or abrasive which might prevent listeners from lapsing into a deep sleep by the sixth track.
User Score
8.9

Universal acclaim- based on 39 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 17 out of 17
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 17
  3. Negative: 0 out of 17
  1. Nov 28, 2013
    10
    This album, "Noble Beat" is Andrew Bird's gem. His voice is in such fine form, and I love his whistilng which is flawless, the lyrics, and melodies. This album is definitely one of his biggest classics. Trust me, this album will move you in a good way. Don't bother listening to it first on iTunes just go to your nearest record store (or a Best Buy or Target if you don't have a record store) and order it now!!!! Full Review »
  2. Jun 10, 2012
    10
    This is undoubtedly one of the most crisp and original albums I've ever heard. He sings with volition and plays so sweetly. The lyrics are masterful and fun, with a lot to sink your teeth into. This album definitely takes you places. Full Review »
  3. Feb 17, 2012
    9
    If there's one word to describe Andrew Bird's Noble Beast, it's "unmistakable." Out of the smoldering flame of excitement generated by Armchair Apocrypha, Andrew Bird returns here in full force, often even more thoughtful musically that his previous masterful effort. What's most fascinating about this album is observing exactly where Bird's sensibility has shifted. From Mysterious Production's guitar heavy indie anthems to Armchair's beautifully varied textures, Andrew Bird goes a step further in Noble Beast, taking the best of Armchair while continuing to develop a distinctive sound. The heavy guitar riffs are almost all gone; instead we have a vast array of polyphony, with multiple violins played in many ways and extremely melodic guitar lines. All the while the entire album is unmistakable. This album features a number of his best songs to date. "Anonanimal" is quite possibly his most sophisticated song to date, flowing and morphing all too appropriately with more textures than we may have even thought Bird could effectively employ. Songs like "Effigy" still pull us back in the best way to Bird's songwriter, folk, sentimentality. "Not a Robot, But a Ghost" too introduces a variety of textures, vast percussion the likes of which he's rarely displayed, and overall a refreshing momentary departure from his predominantly organic sound. All the while, the versatility and ingenuity of Bird shines brilliantly forth through Noble Beast.

    That's not to say the album doesn't have its weak points. Songs like "Nomenclature" and "Natural Disaster" feel slightly lackluster, or rather perhaps simply stale given the ambition of the rest of the album. But moments of weakness are only brief and intermittent, always flowing gorgeously into some marvelous. And where Armchair runs out of steam over its last half, Noble Beast stays totally fresh over the whole album.

    What's struck me about criticism of this album is how misplaced they seem to be. I've read things like "the pizzicato violin is missing," which first of all is false, and second completely refuses to acknowledge the breadth of phenomenal texture and polyrhythm Bird explores here. On the whole, all this album has to offer is a wondrous experience in the present and a faith that no matter what, Andrew Bird will always have something new to offer us, and it will always sound good.
    Full Review »