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.
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.
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.
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]
Positive: 17 out of 17
Mixed: 0 out of 17
Negative: 0 out of 17
Nov 28, 2013This 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!!!!… Expand
Feb 17, 2012If 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.… Expand
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