I’ve been told to listen to Andrew Bird countless times. I’ve heard a few things here and there and never disliked him, but never got fully invested. So when perusing the new releases on Spotify to see if there was anything I would want to try instead of the usual, I clicked on what I thought was a some kind of deluxe version of Have A Nice Life’s Deathconsciousness only to find it was the new Andrew Bird record. Most people recommend that you wait til an artist’s 15th studio album before giving them a go, so here we are.
This collection of songs feels like it’s written by a version of Father John Misty that I don’t want to punch directly in the face, and I mean that as a huge compliment. It’s 2019 and I’m finding myself really excited about music that, on its face, would fit easily in a Wes Anderson soundtrack (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but again, 2019.). It’s because there’s real depth to these tracks. They’re dynamic and cool and sincere. It’s easy to get jaded because it’s exhausting to cut through faux sincerity in pop music, especially “indie” music. But My Finest Work Yet, as far as I can tell, means it.
Right off the bat with the first song “Sisyphus,” I am impressed by the fact that I’m enjoying someone whistling. I usually hate whistling in songs and won’t tolerate it at all in real life. So that’s a great start. The vocal delivery has a Jeff Lynn vibe that’s very deliberate but laid back. Great start.
From there we get to “Bloodless,” which has a Danger Mouse production style and a beautiful sound. The lyrics are political but not over the top or cringey. I can’t get enough of his voice, with the vibrato as he sings “It’s an uncivil war.”
Plucked strings and Mark Knopfler imitations, dynamics and crescendos keep the album moving, with my personal favorites being “Archipelago,” where J. Edgar Hoover is mentioned and I believe King Ghidorah is described through the lazy underwater prom style of the instrumentation, and “Manifest, a heart wrenching country tune with the refrain of “Don’t pretend you can’t hear” which I feel is being yelled at me personally. The record ends with the songs “Don the Struggle” and “Bellevue Bridge Club” which are a one-two punch of feelings that I wasn’t prepared for and did not enjoy until the second or third listen.
So aside from the fact that I shizophrenically believe that Andrew Bird wrote this record at me to try and convince me to stop drinking, I have nothing but positive things to say about it as a whole. I’ll do my best, Andy.