Release Date: Nov 19, 2013
Record label: Grimsey
Pulaski is a city in both western Virginia and south-central Tennessee, and yet, in the one song with lyrics on Andrew Bird’s new EP, he’s begging an anonymous someone to come back to Chicago. Given that signpost, Bird’s mostly likely referring to Pulaski Park on the west side of town, but place doesn’t necessarily matter on I Want to See Pulaski at Night. Because on his new EP, the prolific, fiddle-touting, whistling Bird creates a cinematic musical experience that opens itself to both individual interpretation and universal experience.
Andrew BirdI Want To See Pulaski At Night[Grimsey; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; December 20, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe phrase “Pulaski at Night” first appeared in Andrew Bird’s music fifteen years ago, back on his debut album Thrills with his now disbanded Bowl of Fire. It appeared on the chirpy, washboard-led “Cock o' the Walk,” a track fairly (but not completely) detached from Bird’s current style and even more separated from the song where the phrase makes it returns into Bird’s consciousness. The 1998 Bowl of Fire track would be more suited to a 1920’s Charleston routine whereas the lead track to Bird’s new I Want To See Pulaski At Night EP is a testament to the growth and subtle advancement of his violin loop-led style.
It’s hard to think of Andrew Bird’s new EP as an EP. It’s an appropriate seven tracks, arranged to be reasonably cohesive across a half-hour, and concerned only with a handful of musical ideas, which it teases out intelligently and patiently. So far so good. Bird fashioned the release around a single song, “Pulaski at Night”, which he wrote but did not want to hold until he had enough for a full-length.
For the past two or so months, we’ve been able to sit with Andrew Bird’s latest experimental EP, I Want to See Pulaski at Night. It’s raw, sparse, experimental, and beautiful. It features Bird’s inventive violin work, looping both percussively and melodically over lilting rhythmic accompaniment. It’s eerily haunting at times and tranquil at others.
Andrew Bird’s two albums from last year, the companion LPs Break it Yourself and Hands of Glory, were born countryside, in a barn in west Illinois. That’s where Bird shacked up to crank out hours’ worth of the mostly acoustic material that drove home a big, and particularly solitary year for him. So, when he repeatedly bellows, “come back to Chicago, city of lights” at the crest of his new EP, I Want to See Pulaski at Night, how can you not scan some trace of eagerness, or at least wishful thinking, to lead his heart along a dim country highway bound for Pulaski Road luminescence? It’s a line that sticks more than any he’s written perhaps since attributing his “morbid fascination” to being a child “obsessed with Operation,” but it’s not a telling one; the Pulaski at Night EP isn’t a “comeback” of any sort, nor a jump from sepia-toned folk to something brighter, nor really much of a deviation or improvement from his 2012 efforts.