Andrew Bird is playing the Paramount Theatre next Tuesday, May 24th. And this concert has been on our show-dar for quite some time; there's no question that the acoustics at the Paramount were made for a performer like Bird. We're giddy with excitement as we await the sound of his piccolo whistle vibrating throughout the painted domed ceilings. In anticipation of his performance in Denver we wanted to review his latest debut, "Are You Serious" a beautifully constructed collaboration with Fiona Apple and Blake Mills.
“Are You Serious” bounces through poetic lyrics and empowers listeners with romantic and robust guitar riffs. The album has less of a reliance on vocals and Bird’s branded whistling and more of an emphasis on the underlying music. Electric guitar, keyboard and violin are just a handful of the instruments that shine bright through Bird’s witty and masterful lyricism. By accentuating the instrumentals and ferociousness of the rhythm he has opened up his followers to different side of his artistry - one that we’re welcoming with open arms.
The album begins with “Capsized” and immediately you are greeted with deep electric guitar and a drumming melody that is slightly misleading of what’s to come on future tracks. The rocking and sandpapery instrumentals pop off with a vengeance as guitars crash wildly together. Following “Capsized” “Roma Fade” plays tribute to an earlier version of Bird, opening with the beloved whistle and sashaying into guitar riffs, jaunty lyrics and a melody that dares you not to tap your foot along. Despite the buoyant harmonies, "Are You Serious" has a ton of hair raising and uneasy moments - tapping into Bird's darker lyricism.
The meat and brilliancy of “Are You Serious” come from the three songs sandwiched into the middle of the album, “Chemical Switches” “Left Handed Kisses” and the self titled “Are you Serious”. These three songs capture different versions of Bird that ring true to his overall mastery. In “Chemical Switches” Bird builds up to the climax of the story, with abyssal and poetic lyrics it gives us a glimpse into the sad home of a love lost. Bird’s whistle seems as though it echoes through an empty cavern as his lyrics chronicle a broken heart. All of this emotion feeds into the explosion of Hydrogen and Oxygen that we hear on “Left Handed Kisses”. No doubt, this song is the star of the album. Featuring, Fiona Apple the song dialogues the aftermath of failed love. But with an abounding urgency and beauty.. it’s a unique duet that ties together the entire album. "Are You Serious" is reminiscent of a song on Bird's 2013 release, "I Want To See Pulaski At Night" - slightly more poppy, but with eerie undertones.
The last four songs are like the cigarette in a lover’s fingers left in the throes of passion. Together they form the resolution to a story that you know has a sequel. “Saints Preservus" opens with Bird’s piercingly creepy vibrato whistle, but quickly transitions into the theme of the album and invites in playful guitar picking and animated instrumentals. “Saints Preservus" could be the soundtrack to a murder scene in a Wes Anderson film. The ninth song on the eleven track album, “The New Saint Jude” couples the electric guitar strung throughout the album with his perky and dynamic lyrics. The excitement in “The New Saint Jude” comes to an abrupt halt in “Valleys Of The Young”. The misgiving and apprehension found in this song are like nothing I’ve heard from Bird before. It is this raw energy and despondency that make this song stand out above all others. “Bellevue” is the bow on top of the package seamlessly tying it all together. And we’re left riding the instrumentals into the sunset as the screen fades to black.
“Are You Serious” is seriously refreshing. Amazing to still find new depths to an artist that has produced upwards of 20 albums. Andrew Bird will be at The Paramount Theatre next Tuesday, May 24th. Get your tickets here.