Amelia’s Magazine | Andrew Bird, Noble Beast

Chicagoan Andrew Bird delivers his latest studio album with the confidence we are now accustomed to after four previous albums. True to form, Noble Beast is soaked in classic folk ballads and showered with simple guitar riffs with the occasional spit of flamenco and modern rock. However, as can often become the case after a few records for singer-songwriters with a certain indie-folk bent, this is a bit of a wet album. Nothing particularly original or groundbreaking here (in Bird terms or generally); nothing that makes you down tools and check your mouth isn’t wide open; nothing that slams you against the wall and changes your view of the world.


Listeners and Bird fans hoping for this kind of sensation will be disappointed, but I think that misses the point slightly. Lower your expectations of this prodigiously talented musician only slightly and you realise that Bird is a natural storyteller and has a unique honesty in his voice, to back up the simple soothing melodies of this most recent work. Add some violin crescendos and the occasional bang to the mix and he ends up with enough variance between the tracks to keep us interested.

But boy is this guy bitter – there aint no track to make you jump at a party. Recurrent themes of death, ghosts, disasters and the like don’t instil happiness. Even Masterswarm, with it’s semi-energetic, happy-go-lucky latin clap contains self depricating lyrics. Oh, and please don’t be fooled by Track 11′s devil-may-care guitar intro – the track is, surprisingly, Natural Disaster. Say no more.


There’s refreshment to be had on standout track Not A Robot, But A Ghost, which ups the tempo and is slightly edgier than the rest of the album. Noble Beast is far from depressing, but after fourteen tracks, you can’t help thinking ‘Oh, come on Bird. It can’t be that bad’. Behind the morose lyrics and angst ridden vocals there’s a good singer, an instinctive versifier and a damn good classical musician. He’s obviously got quite a lot to be cheerful about; maybe he could let some rays of sunshine through for the next album.

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