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Boomkat Product Review:
Since 2007's Armchair Apocrypha, Andrew Bird's career has been well and truly on the up, making notable appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman and Late Night With Conan O'Brien whilst ratcheting up some impressive sales figures in North America and embarking on tour with WIlco - a band who have been staunch champions of Bird's career. In fact, it was at Wilco's loft studio that Noble Beasts was recorded, and clearly it was a setup that worked well for the Chicago native: opener 'Oh No' is an instant winner, piling whimsy upon real craft and songwriting gravitas, even retaining composure after throwing in whistled passages. Bird cheerily puts his lips together and blows across much of the album, in fact, and the brilliant 'Masterswarm', actually features a whistling solo. Few artists could make a legitimate feature of such behaviour and get away with it, but Noble Beasts is an album that bears various other hallmarks of ecentricity and extroversion. 'The Privateers' tugs at those heartstrings with an intricate arrangement and a big instrumental swell based around the line: "I don't want your life insurance." As a songwriter, there's nothing dour or overly inward about Bird's style, as demosntrated by a song like 'Nomenclature', combining the acoustic purism of a Paul Simon melody with all the theatricality of a Rufus Wainwright performance. Aside from his distinctive and versatile vocal, Bird's chief asset is surely his violin, which crops up in all manner of different guises, supplying multitracked texture, flailing harmonies and rhythmic staccato passages, all of which help transform these musical concoctions into something far beyond the norm. Highly recommended.