Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs
ndrew Bird’s come a long way since the self-conscious experimentation of his first albums that saw the songwriter winding his way through twentieth-century music. The type of artist that feels uncomfortably comfortable in too many genres to name, the knock on Bird has always been that while he’s obviously a savant—he may never be exactly a genius. Bird has always been able to pull out a song that fits a certain mood pitch-perfect. But a mimic, even the best one, is still just a mimic. All of that changed on Weather Systems, wherein he settled in and began to write songs that meshed and interwove with one another. An album, rather than a collection of songs, it seemed that Bird was on the verge of creating something exceptional. Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs just might be it.
One of the more obvious reference points to Bird is Jim O’Rourke. Talented at nearly everything that he touches, Bird wants to indulge in so many different things that it’s hard to bear down and focus on creating something that coheres into a singular and unified statement. In fact, it might be better to regard Bird’s work as more like collections of EPs brought together for release. Great EPs, mind you.
Starting with the smooth acoustic guitar and lightly tapped drums of “Sovay,” Bird sets the mood that will pervade the record’s length: a sort of laid-back ease that rarely shows much of what it is doing to the casual ear, but one that rewards the attentive one. All the better to hear the innovation in the band’s sound to vocal multi-tracking and Bird’s first forays into wholly guitar-led pop music.
That guitar is usually acoustic and finger-picked, forcefully put in the front of the mix, eagerly showcasing Bird’s skills. Hardly overbearing, it’s a testament to Bird that the whole affair is uplifted by the fact that the guitar is the most prominent feature, guiding the elements of the song around it in a perfect harmony.
Bird’s voice is an understated one, rarely boiling up to reveal anger or, for that matter, any other emotion instead of implacability. The voice most closely resembles Beck, while its subject matter is typically pop: memorable if you bother to care, but never hindering otherwise. There are a few moments where Bird gets outside of him vocally, most notably his undulations that come up in “Opposite Day” and others.
It’s hard to say that Andrew Bird is anything but a master-songwriter, capable of penning a song for any sort of occasion. It was the hardest challenge, however, for Bird himself to understand this power and to control it. He’s finally tamed that quivering urge and, in the process released one really long perfect moment in adult contemporary pop.
Reviewed by: Charles Merwin
Reviewed on: 2005-03-03