Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Andrew Bird - Armchair Apocrypha

Another one of my high school favorites, Andrew Bird’s Armchair Apocrypha came out in March of 2007. I had only started listening to him about a year after his third album Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs had released and was eager for more of his trademark whistling and violin accompanied by fantastic wordplay delving into his introspective thoughts. What we got from this album was certainly more of that, but also a drastically refined sound and an orchestral feel that we didn’t even know we wanted. Reflecting on it now, this step makes so much sense, but then I was surprised at how different it was and how much I liked it. Bird found his own unique sound, rooted in his violin and strengthened by all of his other skills as a musician.

The opening trio of songs are something really special and if they can’t hook you into the rest of the album, don’t bother listening to the rest. You are immediately introduced to far more complex instrumentation than his past productions - pedal loops of electric guitar and violin, thick layers of sound that are easy to get lost in. Occasionally there will be moments where the style returns to the Bird of yore, like in the closing moments of “Fiery Crash” when Haley Bonar joins him in the refrain, but then you are whisked away once again by the fast-paced “Imitosis”, an inventive reimagining of “I” off of Weather Systems. Both versions evoke feelings of loneliness, but accomplished through completely different approaches. “Plasticities” is my favorite track, fusing classic sounding Andrew Bird verses with a catchy, pop chorus that is all too easy to belt out while driving with the windows down.

“Darkmatter” might have my favorite lyrics of any song written by Bird, and the whistling and vocals are also top notch. Listening to a song like this just makes you realize how one of a kind Andrew Bird really is, call his music whatever you want, but you can’t call it unoriginal. What other artists can dedicate a full minute of a song to whistling and still keep it interesting? And who else can write such a passionate song about the Scythians? Fun fact, I had no idea Scythia was even a place and “Scythian Empires” actually got me caught in a very long Wikipedia binge that taught me more ancient Eurasian history than any class in school did. Andrew Bird is one cool cat and I am so grateful for his music, whether it be while I was growing up or as I listen to it now on a rooftop in Jaipur. Let’s hope Chicago continues to churn out excellent musicians like him.

Track List

  1. "Fiery Crash” - 4:12
  2. "Imitosis" - 4:01
  3. "Plasticities" - 4:27
  4. "Heretics" - 3:33
  5. "Armchairs" - 7:02
  6. "Darkmatter" - 5:07
  7. "Simple X" - 3:36
  8. "The Supine" - 0:59
  9. "Cataracts" - 3:12
  10. "Scythian Empires" - 4:34
  11. "Spare-Ohs" - 4:07
  12. "Yawny at the Apocalypse" - 3:39