Chimpomatic

Andrew Bird

Noble Beast

Bella Union

In recent years there has been an endless stream of male singer/songwriters oozing out gentle melodies plucked from delicate guitars and swirling with rich, textural strings and I'm quite honestly bored of the lot of them. Andrew Bird, however, provides exactly what i've just described but has always stood head and shoulders above the rest. His 2007 album Armchair Apocrypha won him critical acclaim across the board and topped many 'best of' lists that year. It was the album that lifted his sound way above his previous work and uncovered a wealth of ideas that had until then remained relatively unexplored. Noble Beast does however return somewhat to the earlier, less flamboyant sound of albums like Weather Systems. It's much more subdued in both tone and scale compared to Armchair Apocrypha but like all his work it is filled with warmth and a musical texture that surpasses most.

As a multi-instrumentalist, Bird meticulously constructs the densest musical backgrounds and Noble Beast excels in this area. With some of the skyward intentions toned down here compared to 2007 each song is given the time and space to explore this multi-layered and rich texture. This beauty is seen from the very first note. Opener Oh No introduces this record with Birds trademark whistles and assumes a rather jovial, jaunty tempo while dealing with the theme of pure terror. Inspired by a flight he took while sat next to a wailing child Bird says of the experience "I was struck by the mournfulness of this kid's wail. He just kept crying 'Oh no' in a way that only someone who is certain of their own demise could." And here lies the dichotomy in Birds work and one of the many answers to my earlier question of why he stands so proud of his singer/songwriter piers. Musically this album drips with cosy warmth and yet features some of his most deranged lyrical content ever. Stories of kittens with pleurisy and grown men living inside his body Bird creates here a work of infinitely evolving detail.

This record has some of the longest songs he's ever made. At over six and a half minutes Masterswarm frequently changes direction and with the luxury of time manages to drift off into blissful instrumental segments ultimately fading out to the sound of the rhythmic handclap beat as filtered through an effects program that could be from the Thom Yorke portfolio. Many of these songs feature Bird's enthusiasm for subtle experimentation such as this. Not A Robot, But A Ghost has some gloriously intricate and homemade percussion as its rhythm section that morphs with twitchy laptop beats to form a driving swarm of rhythm that propels the song along at a pace that the afore mentioned Thom Yorke would be proud to call his own.

Recorded partly in Nashville and partly at the Wilco Loft in Chicago this record couldn't fail to be a triumph, and a triumph it certainly is. It's slow burning but its depths are unfathomable at this early stage. It's a worthy follow up to 2007's impressive work and features some of this artists finest compositions. Some of them are so perfect they are in danger of being consumed by the advertising monsters but the ones that escape this pitfall will stick with you for a very long time.


Links

Andrew Bird
MySpace
Last FM

Tags

#BC
#Music

4th Feb 2009 - Tumblr

4

News

Reviews

Articles

Surveillance

Related

Latitude Festival

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk

DM Stith

Heavy Ghost

Andrew Bird

Armchair Apocrypha

Dosh

The Lost Take

Ad Astra

Incredibly stylish and wannabe cerebral sci-fi, that’s ultimately a little thin.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

19th Jul 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Search

First Man

Underwhelming space drama that’s a bit too intimate and not very epic.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Jul 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Blue Story

Dire, tension-free postcode gang drama. Just add drama.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

21st Jun 2020

Read more 1 star reviews

Apollo 11

Magnificent documentary, re-assembling the moon landing from beautifully remastered footage.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

14th Jun 2020

Read more 4 star reviews

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

The 8th slow-paced Tarantino pic. Literally half entertaining / boring.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

24th May 2020

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Yesterday

Entertaining Brit-com, though it’s a bit on-the-beaten-path for Danny Boyle.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Apr 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Juliet, Naked

Mildly enjoyable, thoroughly forgettable Nick Hornby pic ...once you get past the contrived set up.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

4th Apr 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Shazam

Kid-friendly(ish), super fun superhero movie.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

23rd Mar 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

The Lion King

Impeccably realised remake, but it’s emotionally flat.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

15th Mar 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Galveston

Standard festival thriller, with some style and decent moments - but it’s all a bit thin.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

10th Mar 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Alladin

Surprisingly enjoyable, Guy Ritchie-fied Disney remake.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

10th Mar 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Mapplethorpe

Cookie cutter biography that could literally have been written from his Wikipedia page.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

7th Mar 2020

Read more 1.5 star reviews

Horse Girl

Text book indie, literally days out of Sundance. Interesting until it gets a bit too wacky.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

9th Feb 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Mid90s

Strong slice of 90s skate nostalgia. Slow and subtle.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

8th Feb 2020

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Phantom Thread

Considered character study that strays into pretentiousness here and there.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

25th Jan 2020

Read more 3 star reviews

Rocketman

Enthusiasticly directed sequence of unrelated musical set pieces.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

31st Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Avengers

Endgame

Yet another biggest-battle-yet, with more than a passing nod to BTTF2.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Mystify

Michael Hutchence

Thoughtfully assembled montage doc.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Dec 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Captain Marvel

Decent origin story, with charm and some 90s nostalgia.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Star Wars

The Rise of Skywalker

Freestyle bouillabaisse with all the ingredients, but no chef.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Dec 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Marriage Story

Quintessential indie movie ...funded by Netflix. Great perfs, lovely camera work and solid direction.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

22nd Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Widows

Superior modern thriller. Smart script and accomplished direction.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

15th Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

The Irishman

Long, slow, thoroughly enjoyable loose jam through Scorsese/DeNiro/Pacino/Pesci/Keitel’s greatest hits.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

2nd Dec 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Joker

Batman via Scorsese, in impeccably art directed, neatly packaged origin story.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Nov 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Frozen 2

Surprisingly strong sequel that gets going after a convoluted start.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

24th Nov 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

The Mule

Casual drama from Clint Eastwood, with the man himself anchoring things through a charming turn.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

16th Nov 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

The King

Luscious period drama. Beautifully put together - like Wolf Hall+.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

3rd Nov 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

El Camino

Throw away Breaking Bad expansion piece with little tension or jeopardy.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Oct 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Vice

Stylish but incoherent Cheney biopic, hampered by another one-note turn from Bale.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Oct 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Bohemian Rhapsody

Mind numbingingly basic biopic, saved by the nostalgia for the music and moments.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

5th Oct 2019

Read more 2 star reviews

Minding the Gap

Interesting doc following the lives of 3 teens becoming adults, tied together by skateboarding.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Sep 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Manchester by the Sea

Painful, occasionally uplifting viewing with a grief stricken central performance.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Sep 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Spider-Man

Into the Spider-Verse

Stylish, trippy concept animated superhero flick with some great moments.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

21st Sep 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Dora & the Lost City of Gold

Young adult upgrade, with just enough Conchords humour to keep it enjoyable.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

22nd Aug 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Breath

Decent Aussie surf drama, that nostalgically investigates the soul of surfing before losing its way a little.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

14th Aug 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

A Star is Born

Somewhat unremarkable, but enjoyable music drama. Bit long.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Jul 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Two For Joy

Predictably grim seaside coming-of-age indie. Decent enough, but you’ve seen it before


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

13th Jul 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Mary Poppins Returns

Stylish sequel, hampered in places by some authentic 1960s pacing.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

30th Jun 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Coraline

Out-there kids fable with an old school Tim Burton vibe.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

16th Jun 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Blackkklansman

Rock solid 90s style indie movie. Beautifully assembled at all levels.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

31st May 2019

Read more 4 star reviews

Can’t Stand Losing You

Fairly one-sided Police doc about the seemingly dislikeable trio.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

7th May 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Tallulah

Decent, but slightly muddled parenting indie.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Apr 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Dumbo

Forgettable re-imagining of a not totally unforgettable Disney classic.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

27th Apr 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

Missing Link

Solid stop-motion animation that’s light on plot, but high on charm.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

12th Apr 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Sicario 2

Soldaro

Surprisingly stylish sequel that drops the ball in classic straight-to-VHS style halfway through.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

6th Apr 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Hold the Dark

Opaque Alaskan thriller from Jeremy Saulnier, with little regard for convention.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

1st Apr 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Leave No Trace

Low key indie spin on Rambo, as a father and daughter try and live off grid.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

28th Mar 2019

Read more 3.5 star reviews

The Dirt

Fun biopic that runs out of steam about when the band did.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

25th Mar 2019

Read more 3 star reviews

Deadpool 2

A diminished remake of Deadpool 1. Occasional LOLs.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

25th Mar 2019

Read more 2.5 star reviews

Bird Box

High concept sci-fi that stretches its concept a little thin.


#JustWatched
#Film
#CSF

19th Mar 2019

Read more 3 star reviews