Release Date: Mar 20, 2007
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Spreading his wings following the breakthrough success of 2005's The Mysterious Production of Eggs, prodigious whistler and low-key musical adventurer Andrew Bird has embraced rock guitars and matched his looped violin with fiery rhythms and crunchy percussion courtesy of his new collaborator, drummer Martin Dosh. Like a prizefighter, he strikes first with his pop melodies - hopeful even when he is singing about inescapable solitude and death in Fiery Crashes, breezy in the face of defeat in Simple X. Then come his hard-hitting, gently mocking words, his war imagery, historical references, complex scientific terms and simple romanticism.
Taking flight from the retro swing of his Bowl of Fire, Chicago-based troubadour Andrew Bird gets comfortable in the nest he's been building since 2003's Weather Systems. While nothing on his Fat Possum debut, Armchair Apocrypha, is as instantly engaging as "Fake Palindromes" from 05's Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs, "Imitosis" and "Plasticities" are more intricate and intimate, creating backdrops of pedal-looped pizzicato violin, acoustic and electric guitar, and xylophone, on top of which Bird spills his quivering poetry and thereminlike whistling. Slow pacing reveals a handful of sleepers ("Cataracts," "Spare-ohs"), with sideman Martin Dosh on percussion, Wurlitzer, and atmospheric noises, Bird coming closest to pop perfection with grandiose waltz "Armchairs" and spacious, thought-provoking centerpiece "Darkmatter.
Armchair Apocrypha is Andrew Bird’s seventh album under his own name. True to its title, the album is a low-key, peripatetic affair, one that bears its domestic excellence with well-earned confidence. Even at its most grandiose (“Dark Matter,” “Plasticities”), this collection is only dimly legible. Bird’s voice (a stubbly, winsome thing that compares favorably to Jeff Buckley’s more endearing traits), violin and whistling are Armchair Apocrypha’s constants, but despite its consistent tone, “Scythian Empires’” exotic skiffle and the slinky wit of “Imitosis” approach the listener in almost diametrically opposed ways.