A ndrew Bird has four distinct voices—his violin, his whistling, his glockenspiel, and, of course, his singing voice, which he weaves together in a self-described “textural wash” on the his latest venture, The Mysterious Production of Eggs. It’s the same magic he brought to Ani DiFranco’s Knuckle Down last month. (With Mysterious Production, he also adds another stringed instrument, the guitar, to his repertoire.) Bird doesn’t write traditional love songs; he makes social observations (about suicide, childhood predispositions, capitalism, war) via his otherwise seemingly personal relationships (a potential sex partner dressed in knee highs on “Fake Palindromes,” a love affair written in binary code on “Masterfade”). “You’re what happens when two substances collide/And by all accounts you really should’ve died,” Bird is told by his esteemed panel of judges on “A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left,” one of many songs on the album that are morbidly (and oddly) life-affirming. Andrew Bird’s music holds secrets—there’s something intangible drifting fluidly beneath the surface and yet it’s the kind of music that, for a critic, makes the words come easy. The polyrhythmic drums, percussion, and beats and vocal multi-tracking (courtesy of longtime collaborators Kevin O’Donnell and Nora O’Connor, respectively) are muted, tempered, or sunk low in the mix on “MX Missiles” and “Sovay,” a song about “unprecedented circumstances.” Bird refuses to reveal his secret (one that might just save the world) during the postscript of “Opposite Day,” a jovial “A Day In The Life”-styled ditty about the physics of wealth and justice, while the coda of the hopeful “Tables And Chairs” brought a smile to my face: “I know we’re gonna meet someday in the crumbled financial institutions of this land/There will be tables and chairs/Pony rides and dancing bears,” and then “And that’s not all! Woah! There will be snacks! There will be snacks!” It’s been said that it’s hard to write a good, simple love song, but it’s even harder to write an entire album’s worth of songs so rich with meaning that the listener is still sifting through the contents long after the disc has spun to a stop.
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