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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Andrew Bird is back, seriously

    Loma Vista
    Official album art for Are You Serious, Andrew Bird’s 13th studio album, released Friday, April 1. The album focuses on Bird’s romantic life.

    It’s been more than two years since Andrew Bird last blessed the world with his cryptic, detailed song writing. His new album, Are You Serious, explains why in a nihilistic retelling of his recent relationship struggles.

    Bird’s storytelling is slightly less cryptic this time around. In an interview with NPR, he talked about having to encode his emotions in analogies in an attempt to preserve his romantic relationships.

    “You’re sitting on the couch and you know it’s not going to last, you might … have to … encrypt … things,” Bird said.

    He said he no longer had to do that with Are You Serious.

    The album opens strong with the blues and garage-rock-flavored instrumentals of “Capsized.” Within the first minute, Bird has jumped into his depression-riddled relationship history. He describes his disenchantment with his partners and cyclical habits, in which he always manages to find unhappiness in short-lived relationships.

    The album continues to describe his rocky romantic life through intricate vocals and uplifting melodies saturated by heavy effects. It moves forward in waves of folk and garage rock with Bird’s iconic, Theremin-like whistle playing gently throughout.

    Bird’s songs tend to focus more on the abstract and the atmosphere. In his interview with NPR, he described the process of creating an atmosphere and writing for it, rather than focusing on music theory or voice leadings.

    This may be why the album more closely resembles a catalog of individual landscapes rather than a collection of stories. Each song seems to gently guide its listener into its own uniquely synthetic world, characterized by blends of rock n’ roll, the Old West and folk.

    Perhaps the attention-grabbing quality of these worlds is “Left Handed Kisses,” a duet with singer Fiona Apple. The song highlights Bird’s finding love in spite of his nihilism through a dialogue with Apple. While Bird sings of his wishy-washy nature and reluctance toward falling in love.

    Apple sings, almost pleadingly, as the song ends “If you hesitate, you’ll hear the click of the receiver.”

    Bird’s last song, “Bellevue,” breaks through the darkness with a happy acoustic violin melody, typical of his less bitter years. He sings about finally reaching the shore and overcoming his nihilism.

    He ends the album with “I think I found someone.”

    It’s hard to not find yourself content in pessimism while listening to Are You Serious. The happy instrumental melodies and harmonies will lift your spirit only to drop it in apathy. The end result, however, is contentment.

    Grade: B

    Follow Jonathan Terry on Twitter.

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