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Andrew Bird’s ‘Break It Yourself’ takes flight

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Andrew Bird is often grouped with this league of indie-rockers who have started to establish, or have been established, in a more popular realm. Take the Grammy-winning bands Arcade Fire and Bon Iver, for example. Both have won some of the most upheld honors in music in their respective years.

Even though he has attained some stature as an icon of indie music, Bird is, put simply, quite different from the aforementioned artists. This is not to say that if Bird were to win a Grammy one day, I wouldn’t be happy for him, but it wouldn’t be congruent to Bon Iver winning the same award. Rather than releasing emotional tunes or bass drum-oriented anthems for listeners, Bird relies more on his musicianship, mostly in regard to his violin playing and synthesizing a particular aesthetic.

In this respect, “Break It Yourself” is a testament to the artist himself — his overall style and all of its nuances. This album epitomizes Bird — it is what should be the new starting point for those now discovering him.

Bird presents a variety of tunes and tones on this record. There are upbeat tracks, such as “Danse Caribe” and “Orpheo Looks Back.” These tracks are the essence of the differentiation between playing the fiddle versus playing the violin. They are folkier for Bird’s style, and the violin breakdown in the former song is spectacular.

“Desperation Breeds…” opens up the record drearily with that iconic Bird guitar pitter-patter and muted violin plucking. On that note, “Lazy Projector” is a slower tune as well, but the combination of Bird’s crooning, the subtle guitar strum and puttering percussion make listening to the song an intimate experience. The listener is lured into the song’s atmosphere.

It’s rare to find an album from a given artist that is so eloquent that you can refer to it as quintessential. There’s something exciting and historic about finding a record of this nature, that raises the hair on the back of your neck when you listen to it. Bird’s most recent record, “Break It Yourself,” is that experience. I advise all to give it a listen.

Grade: A

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