Are You Serious Image
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Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critic Reviews What's this?

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7.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

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  • Summary: The 10th full-length studio release from the singer-songwriter features contributions from Blake Mills and Fiona Apple.
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Top Track

Left Handed Kisses
I don't believe everything happens for a reason To us romantics out here, that amounts to high treason I don't go in for your star-crossed lovers In... See the rest of the song lyrics
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Apr 22, 2016
    100
    Bird changed up the backing group from his previous three records and picked a producer he worked with during 2005 solo breakthrough, The Mysterious Production Of Eggs. The result of all this makes Are You Serious arguably his best, at least since Eggs.
  2. Apr 4, 2016
    85
    It's accessible, creative, and honest- everything art wishes it could be.
  3. Mojo
    Mar 28, 2016
    80
    Are You Serious is goosebump thrilling and deeply moving. It's also warm and funny, even in its darkest moments. [May 2016, p.93]
  4. Apr 7, 2016
    80
    There is some devastating music on Are You Serious, and there is some beautiful music, too; often these passages are one and the same. It sounds like a natural progression for Andrew Bird, yet in places it’s like nothing you’d expect from the singer. It is, for these reasons and many more, a triumph.
  5. 75
    Are You Serious isn’t perfect by any stretch, but on this record, Andrew Bird has compiled 11 good songs. Every track is well-produced. Every track has competent lyrics. Every track is melodically solid. Every track exhibits Bird’s impressive performing abilities (the things he does with a violin are incredible). Every track is individually memorable.
  6. Apr 6, 2016
    72
    Still curious, still appraising, Bird offers an intellect remarkably porous to change.
  7. Apr 1, 2016
    58
    Unfortunately, the highlights here are exceptions rather than the rule.

See all 22 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Apr 6, 2016
    10
    Several years ago, Andrew Bird was interviewed by Rennie Sparks (of The Handsome Family) about his album "Break It Yourself". About halfwaySeveral years ago, Andrew Bird was interviewed by Rennie Sparks (of The Handsome Family) about his album "Break It Yourself". About halfway through the interview, Mrs. Sparks asks him "where do we end up when songs lead us in two directions at once?", to which Bird replies:

    "That friction between the tone of the music and what the lyrics are saying creates the humor and melancholy that helps us deal with it all. If it's dark on dark my eyes glaze over or I think 'are you serious?' In fact, that's what I was thinking of calling this record, I guess because the songs got into a personal territory that, dare I say, are almost confessional, and that naturally makes me a bit uncomfortable."

    Four years later, Bird has delved into this concept even further with his new album, aptly titled "Are You Serious" (sans question mark).

    The album begins with the drum-heavy "Capsized". Here we find Andrew completely out of character, singing plainly about his experience with a painful breakup without relying on any of his signature Webster dictionary deep-cuts (e.g. - plecostomus, coprophagia) and/or completely made-up nonsense words (e.g. - pacifizers, harbisots). Please don't misunderstand - I love Andrew's Dr.-Seuss-gone-mad lyrics; but this time around he's intentionally trying as hard as he can to be transparent. In the self-aware title track, he even teases how he "used to be so willfully obtuse (or is the word 'abstruse'?), semantics like a noose, get out your dictionaries", humorously summing up his typical standard of thoroughly encrypting his song lyrics for the sake of keeping things interesting. But for this project, as he plainly declares in the stanza that follows, "this is all non-fiction". What we have here is the art of an introvert stepping out of his comfort zone, and it's wonderful.

    Three years ago, Bird published an article in the New York Times about "puzzling through a love song". While describing his method here, he explains:"Sometimes I joke that I'd sooner write a song about why I have trouble writing a love song than tread the well-worn path of the love song itself. I wouldn't want to get caught out there with a refrain like, 'Baby, Baby, Baby.' Again, we'll see." He then decides that's exactly what he's going to do with his song, and concludes the article with the following: "My former self would be horrified to know I was writing a song with 'baby' as the refrain but here it is. Like I said, embarrassment is sometimes a good sign. It can mean you are revealing something true." The song being described here is the first draft of "Left-Handed Kisses", Andrew's feisty new single featuring Fiona Apple. It's one of the most direct songs the man's ever recorded, and again - it's wonderful. There are other songs on this album that are more akin to his past work, such as "St. Preservus", which according to Bird is about "an out-of-body experience [he] had at Costco", proving that despite his best efforts Andrew Bird sometimes just can't help but be Andrew Bird - which is a good thing! Another fun oddball is "The New St. Jude", a track that perfectly demonstrates what Bird previously described as that tonal friction between "humor and melancholy"; too few musicians can sing lines like "everyone's a disappointment and everyone's a failure" or "ever since I gave up hope I've been feeling so much better" and sound so darn happy about it.

    The album ends on an intensely personal note with "Valleys of the Young", which begins with the question: "Do you need a reason we should commit treason and bring into this world a son?". The song candidly captures Bird reflecting on the love and pain that accompanies parenthood, leading him to ask, "Is it selfish or is it brave?". Having recently become a father myself, it's a particularly moving track. The most vulnerable moment of the song comes when Andrew allows himself to experience paternal fear:

    "Now you're going on 64
    Driving down 65, to the hospital
    To see if your adult son will survive or not
    After taking those pills in the parking lot
    (You know the one behind the Marriott)
    This is a dream you won't be waking
    Still our hearts are constantly breaking
    From the cradle to our grave
    Is it selfish or is it brave?"

    Then after a sonic duststorm (courtesy of Blake Mills' electric banjo, among other things) the track moves backward to the present day, transitioning to "Bellevue", where Bird succinctly concludes the album on a happy note about his wife:

    "Now I've found someone who can slake my thirst
    In a land beset by drought
    Who feeds my hungry heart when it feels like fallow
    Now I find myself always on the ins
    And never on the outs
    Who guides my lonely ship on through the shallows
    I think I've found someone."

    And thus a journey that began with a ship being capsized concludes with that same ship sailing smoothly through the shallows. A perfect ending to a perfect album.
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  2. Apr 7, 2016
    9
    Wow, so nice to see Andrew Bird delivering a solid and emotional album after all theese years. It has been a long time since "real" album,Wow, so nice to see Andrew Bird delivering a solid and emotional album after all theese years. It has been a long time since "real" album, with lots of ep's and weird releases. Now, finally, there's something to put side to side with 2009's Noble Beast. Some of the tracks here really stand out. 40 minutes of great AB :) Expand