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Noble Beast

43 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 20, 2009
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Noble Beast + Armchair Apocrypha [Vinyl] + Andrew Bird & The Mysterious Production of Eggs
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Editorial Reviews

2009 release from the quirky but melodic singer/songwriter. Swiftly picking up popularity with his fifth album The Mysterious Production of Eggs, Andrew Bird then signed with Fat Possum Records for his 2007 highly anticipated follow-up record Armchair Apocrypha. Now he stands poised with this new record, which he spent most of 2008 working on. 14 tracks.


Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 20, 2009)
  • Original Release Date: January 1, 2009
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Fat Possum
  • ASIN: B001LTVBX4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,629 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Do you like chamber pop? I mean really, really like chamber pop? The kind of pop music that is intimate and full of careful touches, perfectly crafted? Well, then this is the record for you. This record is a constant pleasure, offering the sort of tunefully creative pop that combines some of the emotionalism of Belle and Sebastian with the whimsy of Badly Drawn Boy and the croon of Rufus Wainwright, minus the rough burr in the middle of his voice (not that I mind that burr in Rufus--it is actually part of his charm--but I digress). OK, so that might be a hard thing to imagine, but pop this disc in, and you'll see what I mean. Gentle melodies sung with verve, humor, melancholy, and unforced sweetness, amazingly pleasant whistling (!) and fresh production. Andy has an up front sort of innocence about his singing, even when he sings of heartbreak or regret, and although his production can be complicated, it doesn't take a genius to follow his beautiful tunes. From afar, it seems a swirling mess, but the closer your listen, the more every sound that is there simply needs to be there.

If you've never listened to Andy Bird before, this is going to be a real treat. If you are already a fan, you won't be disappointed--this may be his best album yet, and that is no small claim. Listening to the album is simply a lot of fun, and I can't imagine that I'm going to get tired of listening to this one any time soon. Very recommended for people who love chamber pop.
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80 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Invisigoth on January 20, 2009
Format: Audio CD
Noble Beast is a pretty decent release. The songs are sonically cohesive and compelling, two qualities that eluded its predecessor Armchair Apocrypha, an album that never became more than the sum of its parts. Andrew Bird's assembled cast of musicians toured together for several months before cutting this album and it really shows. Thankfully, the cut-and-paste feel of Armchair has been excised, revealing songs that simply sound more relaxed and natural.

The Latin-tinged "Masterswarm" for example features undulating rhythms that effortlessly melds signature Bird whistling and violin before melting into an impressive middle eight section. A Beatles-esque guitar hook anchors "Effigy" and its spare, understated framework though I swear it's a recast number from the Bowl of Fire days. "Nomenclature", despite its lyrical indulgence (more on this later) blasts a wall of sound on the unsuspecting listener. "Natural Disaster" ranks among the finest of Andrew Bird's melodic compositions, showcasing a steel guitar that nicely countrifies the song. (The country feel is something I have sorely missed in Andrew Bird's most recent offerings.).

(Warning! Constructive criticism follows!)

Occasionally, there are missteps however. The weak points are twofold: the singing and the lyrics. There's an old joke about how Mazzy Star guitarist David Roback can play at three speeds: slow, slower, and slowest. Similarly, Andrew Bird can sing in two ways: plaintive and more plaintive. In the opening verse to "Tenuousness", he is either recovering from wisdom teeth extraction or singing with a mouthful of marbles. Moreover, his voice all too easily strays into schmaltzy territory when he heads for the higher registers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Thompson on February 8, 2009
Format: Audio CD
I've only been a fan of Andrew Bird's for a few short years, but my fall was a quick one after deciding to purchase one of his albums on a whim. I won't confess that I believe this is Bird's best work yet, but I find that it is all I want to listen to right now. (I've even played this in my classroom and had another teacher comment on how relaxing it is.)
What I've always loved about Bird's music is the fact that there are songs within his songs. However, where most musicians/bands fail at the particular task of making it work, Bird has the ability to makes those transitions smooth ones.
While this album isn't a total 180 degree turn from his usual genius, Bird does work with different musical textures, "Not a Robot, but a Ghost" in particular, and it does go in a different direction, sound wise. The violin, guitar, and whistling are still there, but in wonderful variations. These songs and the photography used for the album remind me of my formative years; the music is more whimsical and I find I'm still pulling apart the various layers of it. (I can easily see this album being used for a cross country roadtrip.)
All of the songs are cohesive and "serve their purpose" for lack of a better term, but the highlights for me include: "Not a Robot, but a Ghost," "Masterswarm," "Effigy," and the last three minutes of "Souverian" still me with its beauty. "Anonanimal" is my favorite song on the album, and I haven't been able to get it out of my head ever since NPR previewed the album some time ago. Some might not be too fond of the instrumental pieces, but I personally love that Bird is still including those.
I won't recommend this album to a first time Andrew Bird listener, but it is a wonderful addition to Mr. Bird's growing musical legacy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 5, 2009
Format: Audio CD
In 2007, Andrew Bird finally broke through in the mainstream indie-rock scene (if there is such a thing) with his excellent "Armchair Apocrypha" album. Now comes the highly anticipated new album.

"Noble Beast" (14 tracks; 54 min.) continues the same delicate balance that Bird found on the previous album between on the one hand his tendencies for the solo things (be it violin or whistling) and on the other hand embracing the full-band sound. The album kicks off with "Oh No", which sets the tone for the album: mid-tempo, whistful yet beautiful. When Bird truly dives into the full-band sound, such as on "Fitz and the Dizzyspells", it works great. But there are too many same-tempo, same-soundscape sounding tracks, and after a while,it all starts to sound a bit of the same. The length of the album doesn't help either: at almost a full hour, it's simply too long, period.

Don't get me wrong: "Noble Beast" is not a bad album, and I recognize and appreciate the ambition with which Bird undertook this. But the album needs more variety in tempo and sound, and should be cut by 2-3 songs. I've had the good fortune of seeing Andrew Bird in concert a number of times over the years, most recently last year here in Cincinnati at the 2008 MusicNOW festival, where he have a mesmorizing solo-performance. Can't wait to see him live again at some point.
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