I was a late-comer in discovering the music of Andrew Bird. Although I knew that he had released several albums (one that even included cover art by fabulous designer Chris Ware), I just never sought out his work for some reason. About two years ago, though, I found his Weather Systems album for a really cheap price in a used bin at a local record store and after listening to that release, I found myself enraptured by his unique sound. While Bird's early work seemed to fall in line slightly closer to the work of that of his former group (the Squirrel Nut Zippers), he has since taken a completely different path, creating lush indie pop music that prominently features unique instrumentation that includes his expressive whistling (yes!).
The Mysterious Production Of Eggs is a step up for Bird both in terms of overall sound and output. Running over fifty minutes, it dwarfs his concise previous album, and most of that extra time he's able to completely hold the listener. In fact, the release opens up with what may be some of the best tracks that he's ever done (some of which are among the best tracks I've heard by anyone this year). "Sovay" mixes soft rhodes piano with strummed guitar, mandolin, and sleepy vocals by Bird. "A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left" starts with only vocals and guitar but soon leaps into a string-touched track that seems to move quickly with evocative lyrics, subtle programmed percussion, and some glorious whistling.
As if the previous two tracks were leading right into it, "Fake Palindromes" takes off with a gallop and rumbles forward with bursts of strings, guitars, and chimes as Bird again showcases his clever lyrics that stir up all kinds of bizarre imagery (in a particularly great moment, Bird corrects himself after he's used the wrong word in a verse. After the giddy procession of the first string of tracks on the release, things calm down a bit, but there's no lack of memorable melodies.
Although it's a minor quibble, one of those melodies (in "Skin Is, My") is repeated nearly verbatim from Weather Systems, but it's more of a sequel to that track (that admittingly builds to something more rocking. "Tables And Chairs" again strips things back to an electronic rhythm, some chimes, strings and other subtle instrumentation, yet the whole thing feels so natural that one would never guess it's quite a distance from where Bird started out on his first release. With the latter half of the album not keeping up quite the same pace as the first, the album seems to run just a smidge long, but once again it's a minor quibble. With the release, Bird seems to have really reached a stride in terms of his overall sound and the result is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.