Andrew Bird’s new album brims with poetic merit

Hasmik Djoulakian

(April 5, 2012) — After three listens and two read-throughs of the lyrics to the 14 songs on Andrew Bird’s latest album titled Break It Yourself , the pervasive power that Bird holds over his fans hits, and hits hard. This indie-rock album has very minimal straightforwardness in both a lyrical and melodic sense. For this reason, the inattentive listener may cast it aside as a nice album with little substance, when actually, the substance lies in the subtle and earnest manner in which the album is presented. Bird himself is the same way; he often is branded as another run-of-the-mill artist trying to define himself as something unique. Bird, however, is unique. He is the only artist who so skillfully incorporates whistling into his songs, not to mention his violin and guitar work. Moreover, his poetic lyrics do not blend in with the humdrum that is presented to the unquestioning and loyal fans of more mainstream music genres. His lyrics patiently and earnestly relate the joys and difficulties in life which people often overlook or ignore. As Bird has grown as a person, so has he grown as an artist, something reflected in the evolving nature of his music. It’s almost as if he’s been finding himself through his music. From his first solo album in 1996, to his band Bowl of Fire in 1997, his solo career, and now an album centered upon his quiet ruminations of the world, Bird has been finding himself both as an artist and as a person (and probably still isn’t finished). Some are able to appreciate this and recognize the beauty in Break it Yourself , but others without as much time on their hands to dissect the songs dismiss the album as mediocre and dismiss Bird as someone who whistles too much. The track “Sifters” on the album mimics the feel and rhythm of the ocean itself, and is the most hypnotic track on the album. “Lazy Projector” reflects upon the the role memory plays in our lives and has a calm melody. On the other end of the indie spectrum, the lead single “Eyeoneye” is the most fast-paced and rock-influenced track, one which is sure to be liked by more people because it’s the one song that’s self-explanatory. This is an album that earns your respect. You won’t understand it, you maybe won’t even like it at first. However, the melodies, and even moreso the lyrics, will creep into your mind in such a way that you won’t grow weary of them and move on after a couple of weeks. Bird has been praised by Esquire and The New York Times for his 2009 album The Noble Beast . He has had mixed reactions so far for Break It Yourself , but deserves recognition for the poetic value of his songs and the sheer talent that he has with a violin and glockenspiel. Just because most of America can’t take the time to appreciate the hidden meanings behind his songs does not mean that he as an artist should be overlooked. He is not a one-dimensional artist, something painfully too few people are able to appreciate. Andrew Bird does not belong to any one musical genre. Rather, he has over time created one for himself; Andrew Bird himself is a genre of music—one that is ever-evolving, ever-talented, and ever-underrated.