Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

by Erica Moser (Journalism), published March 12th 2012

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

It seems that anything Andrew Bird does musically works for him. The man can do no wrong. His sixth solo studio album, Break It Yourself, is an amalgamation of elements: whistling interludes reminiscent of the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, crickets, and a violin rift suitable for a jig. It’s so wild it’s peaceful.

The album title comes from “Eyeoneye,” in which Bird sings, “You’ve done the impossible now / Took yourself apart / Made yourself invulnerable / No one can break your heart / So you break it yourself.” It sounds like both the ultimate freedom and the ultimate sorrow.

These themes are standard in the world of woeful, beleaguered indie rock musicians. Yet Bird balances this with dynamic lyrics such as, “and we’ll dance like cancer survivors / like we’re grateful simply to be alive” on “Near Death Experience Experience.” Moreover, he incorporates jazz, folk and new wave elements, revamping the genre of indie rock, in which handspun tales and melodies can grow trite. He knows his craft well.

Bird draws on aspects of previous albums but rehashes them enough to craft something original. For example, the opening of “Orpheo Looks Back” is similar to that of “Two Sisters” on his solo debut Music of Hair, but it goes in a different direction. Bird also not utilize violin flutters as much as in Music of Hair, but more so than in the preceding four albums. Bird scatters his signature moves throughout; each one is like the familiarity of biting into your grandmother’s secret-recipe chocolate chip cookies.

The standout moment on the album comes with “Danse Caribe.” The track begins with the type of acoustic guitar music that never gets old. He proceeds to sing, “Here we go mistaking clouds for mountains, oh / Here’s the thing that brings the sparrows to the fountains, oh” in a manner that makes one think he unearthed some secret from his great folk predecessors. Halfway through, the piece transitions into something that sounds like Sufjan Stevens on a tropical island, then an aviary, then a country-dance. It’s just plain fun.

At one hour, the album gets long, which is detrimental at moments with the vibe of a lullaby. Yet this quality is mostly positive: this is music meant to be soaked up, as if it could seep into one’s pores and rest tranquilly in the soul.

Recommended Tracks: Desperation Breeds, Danse Caribe, Near Death Experience, Sifters

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