Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself

Andrew Bird has been going through some major life changes. He endured a serious romantic fallout in 2010, relocated from his home in Chicago to Venice, California, and now, at 38, is a newlywed and a father for the first time. Break It Yourself, Bird’s 6th full-length solo offering and follow-up to 2009’s Noble Beast, is his most personal record to date. After losing love and quickly finding it again, Bird airs his emotions and feelings like never before. His esoteric allusions to the ocean, the sky, nature, and “all God’s creatures” are just as present as ever, but this time around the metaphors are a bit closer to the heart. Break It Yourself has all of the elements we’ve come to love about our songbird; the crooning violins and melodic pluckings; strings looped together into a swooping, colliding, frolicking symphony of sound; and of course the whistles. It wouldn’t be Dr. Stringz without his pitch-perfect blue jay coos. This album is delicious paella – Bird’s fresh, reliable musical ingredients are seasoned perfectly and served steaming hot after a long day. It just never really fills me up all the way.

There are a couple of stand out tracks, that’s for sure. “Lusitania” teams Bird up with fellow indie-folkster Annie Clark (of St. Vincent). Her verse is undersized, but it’s lasting. “Lusitania” is a vivid, picturesque recording that pits our songsters at sea, amidst a war and battleships. “Near Death Experience Experience” is classic Bird, but with a subtle flirtation on innovation. He successfully combines modern, minimal outer space sound effects and Spanish-European influences while maintaining his classic whistle-and-pluck personality. This song will play well at large venues and festivals, but would resonate just as well at a backyard patio bodega. And “Lazy Projector” balances the classic, foot-tappin’, whistlin’, Andrew Bird-style with candid, intimate submissions in the form of the line “I can’t see the sense of us breaking it up at all.”

On “Sifters”, Bird shows-off his linguistic prowess and his second-natured ability to create imagery. “What if we hadn’t been born at the same time? What if you were seventy-five and I were nine? Would I come visit you? Bring you cookies in an old folks home? Would you be alone?” Another time he voices, “I didn’t know your love was a commodity, what about appreciation?”

Break It Yourself isn’t all metaphors and euphemisms for lost love. There are moments of celebration as well. “Danse Carribe” has an uplifting, feel good rhythm driven by a steel drum and happy-go-lucky whistling which transitions into a sort of Irish Jig. And “Orpheo Looks Back” extends on that cheery feeling, as Bird’s collage of strings mingle with Baroque pop fiddles recalling something you’d hear at the Renaissance Fair.

Andrew Bird has been toeing the line of mainstream crossover status for a few years now. Break It Yourself won’t propel him into that, but that’s neither typical of Bird nor his intention. This album explores some uncharted waters, and it’s truly a stamp for him artistically, but it’s just not the record that will break him or elevate his reputation to another level. It’s simply the next fine collection of folk-lullabies that will ease their way into his expanding catalogue of music. It’s definitely a deeper side of Bird that we’re getting here. And that’s good. The guy went through some things and he’s sharing some of it with us. But it’s okay. Things happen for a reason. Some of it you can control, and some of you can’t. And there seems to be a somewhat serendipitous conclusion to all of it. Because as Bird sings, “No one can break your heart, so you break it yourself.”

1. Desperation Breeds…
2. Polynation
3. Danse Caribe
4. Give It Away
5. Eyeoneye
6. Lazy Projector
7. Near Death Experience Experience
8. Behind The Barn
9. Lusitania
10. Orpheo Looks Back
11. Sifters
12. Fatal Shore
13. Hole In The Ocean Floor
14. Belles

Andrew Bird - Break It Yourself, reviewed by Bryce on 2012-03-26T10:55:32-07:00 rating 3.8 out of 5

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