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Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production Of Eggs

December 6, 2010

It seems to be, of late, an all too rare occurance, for me to “discover” an artist with a back catalogue from pre-2009. It is even rarer then, for me to listen to the entire collection of said back catalogue over the better part of 8 hours (inclusive of some well deserved repeat plays).

Step forward Mr Andrew Bird, a man who is not only an extraordinarily talented musician – and I do not throw that sort of compliment around lightly – but also, on the merit of his 6 or so albums, wildly underachieving. For a man who has only recently admitted to “getting” the finer points of indie rock – his appreciation of the style is clear and the sort of gentle folksy tones he brings to his succinctly measured songs would make more recent success stories such as Mumford & Sons weep with admiration. I would kindly suggest at this point that you listen to the below song for the remainder of this review as a small highlight of the albums delightful dittys:

For the uninitiated amongst you, Andrew Bird is an American singer and multi-instrumentalist (predominantly violin, guitar and whistling of all things, on this particular album). With a particularly strong folk influence thrust upon him whilst growing up, it is no surprise that his first few albums are nothing short of straight, unadulterated well…what other word is there for folk…ethnic?? But even on his earlier work there is a subtle hint of things to come, from some bluesy licks to tasty jazz and swing rhythms that occasionally rear their heads, not to mention of course, his haunting vocals and sometimes quite humorous yet thoughtful lyrics.

Having breezed through his entire backcatalogue I would definitely say that The Mysterious Production of Eggs is probably one of the easier listens then, both in terms of the general flow of the album, the construction of the songs themselves into tight 4-5 minute segments as opposed to wandering 8-10 minute songs that perhaps might be more closely compared to a progressive jamming session or sorts.

Beginning with that classic of classic song titles Untitled Mr Bird gently prepares your ears and mind for the rest of the album with a simplistic song mixing his many instrumental talents into a mere sample measuring just over 1 minute. The following song Sovay (a reference itself to a well known traditional English folk song) is also a kind reminder that Andrew Bird knows more about the flow of an album than the majority of major record label bands by keeping it again on the mellow side, this time with a story-telling melody dripping with such melancholy and nonchalance that it is some wonder the guy ever manages to get out of bed to practice, let alone write songs.

Of course the next song A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left begins to open up the listener to something a little more light-hearted, with some expert whistling which almost sounds like a good old fashioned  theremin echoing over the incredibly subtle sampled beat that runs throughout. I must admit I am particularly fond of the climactic and a little theatrical conclusion to the song. Continuing on the general building of sound, Fake Palindromes brings from the start a crashing of eastern sounding violin and drum patterns with Bird’s fascination with the sounds of words regardless of their meaning coming across in the very first line. The song in fact being a play on sentences that sound like palindromes but are in fact not (on a side note of this I have to say that I really do appreciate the sounds that lyrics have over their meaning any day of the week and it shows up in my music collection more often than not – see Everything Everything or Biffy Clyro as prime recent examples).

Moving on to other highlights of the album Opposite Day is a quirky little tune beginning with the oddest sounding harp synth (at a guess) and whining strings before a more Beatles-esqu story unfolds of a day where “molecules decide to change their form, laws of physics lose their sway”. Skin Is, My is an awesome example of some of Bird’s more eclectic influences and can only be described as somewhere between swing and samba with yet more excellent mixing of violin, whistling samples and even a little taste of spoken word mid-song.

On reflection of writing this review it is hard to define what appeals most about this album. The technical ability of Bird himself certainly makes me appreciate the compositions all the more and his voice, while at times nasal, is soothing in such a way that I would suggest that if this review has influenced you at all to download the album, I would strongly recommend settling down with a good book and then pressing play. Let the whole album just pass you by on the first listen then come back for the second or third (or in my case after writing this now 8th time) and pay more attention to the finer points of each song.

Do not expect anything ground breaking here – The Mysterious Production Of Eggs is no pusher of the envelope – but it is a solid and enjoyable album. And like I said at the beginning of the review, it is so rare to find a back catalogue that is so large and varied these days from what is a considered a fairly ‘recent’ artist. I leave you with Skin Is, My and hopefully you will come to appreciate this album and artist as much as I have in the last couple of weeks!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Athénaïs permalink
    December 17, 2010 11:05 pm

    I quite like him!! Thanks for sharing. You know I’m a bit like you with men’s voices, I can’t quite differentiate them and I barely like any… We need to shaaare!!!

  2. Chris Bingo permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:29 pm

    Haha! I’m glad the vocal-sexism goes both ways! If we can keep up with our struggle to listen to the opposite sex sing we will be just as adept at telling them all apart! 🙂

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