New Andrew Bird is some of 2012’s best yet

Every music library needs a selection of the chillest music to make it complete. Though it might show up the rest of its kind, that part of your library is begging to add Andrew Bird’s new Break It Yourself to the mix.

Andrew Bird is a musician from Chicago’s suburb of Lake Forest who’s been making music for about 15 years. His span of experience shows through in his latest release, as violin sounds accompany his lighthearted voice with the addition of guitar, a whistle and the occasional backup vocalist. Otherwise, Bird tackles the feat of original music making on his own, conquering a spirited concept by himself and doing it well.

The indie rock and folk styles in Break It Yourselfshine through as calming jams that soothe the soul for a full hour-long set. Its interpretive sounds are young but aged and also slow but entertaining. If listeners wish to fall asleep to it, they’re free to do so if they allow it. Otherwise its exciting new melody after every fadeout is enough to keep you up despite its calming nature.

Normally the way a soft voice ‘ooh’s’ in the background would sound eerie, but somehow it adds a layer of depth to the song that is harmonic despite its unexpectedness. This sound can be detected throughout the album and it serves as a mediator in times of threatened intensity.

However, Andrew Bird comes back with a fire  music lovers don’t see quite often.

On Break It Yourself, this starts with “Desperation Breeds” and continued to ride the wave for much of the album, which is not common in music but is genuinely embraced. This album is packed with new sounds; only more to love.

Songs like “Give It Away” are reason to celebrate the wonder of music as a falsetto xylophone glides along slow snare drum rhythms,  adding a soft presence to the center of the album. This, of course, is all before the charming man-and-woman duet “Lusitania” juxtaposes dark harmonies and youthful whistles for an interesting composition. Like we said, Bird’s new album keeps it interesting from beginning to end.

In the end, Break It Yourself captures the essence of a solemn and raw compilation without the burden of a heavy concept. This album remains light and delicate while channeling some of the most bountiful sounds we’ve heard yet this year. It’s far too rare that musicians put out material that is dense but doesn’t pressure the listener to dig deep into their soul.

To say that it’s bright and easygoing doesn’t mean to imply that the album lacks character or meaning. Many lyrics carried profound messages, like that of “Sifter”, near the record’s end:

And if I were the night sky
Here’s my lullaby
My lullaby to leave by

“Hole In The Ocean Floor” entrances a full eight minutes of sheer bliss, bringing together elements of bountiful instrumental, descriptive lyrical wisdom and unique rhythmic wonder that trail off into the final song of the album. “Belles” serves as the bookend for Break It Yourself, acting as the swan song in a well-constructed gem that reminds us that 2012 still holds space for promising sounds.

Jason Radford

About Jason Radford

A lunatic for pop music. Gay Chicago resident imported from the Twin Cities. Visual designer, recent graduate and writer. Left handed.