Tenth Studio Album On Vinyl LP!
Featuring Fiona Apple, Blake Mills & Moses Sumney!
With his 2016 album Are You Serious, Andrew Bird has widened the breadth of his art by directly reflecting his own human experience. With key contributions from Fiona Apple, Moses Sumney and Blake Mills, Are You Serious attains a level of expression that's a personal, evolutionary leap. "Here I am with my most unguarded, direct, relatable album to date," Bird says, "Go easy on me."
"I set out to make a record that's different than any I've made before," he explains. "I wanted to make an album musically crafted like a Wrecking Crew session, where you have to be good. There's less wordplay and more intention to process some brutal times that I went through. What happens when real ordeals befall someone who has always been happy writing from their imagination and the distance of the third person? Who has time for poetics while grappling with birth and death? What's the role of sincerity for a songwriter who doesn't really go in for the confessional thing? This is what I struggled with for this record. I suppose the title could be poking fun at my own foray into the confessional realm."
Are You Serious is the second record Bird has made with producer Tony Berg, following 2005's breakthrough The Mysterious Production of Eggs. "Tony and I spent months preparing for Sound City," says Bird, referring to the legendary Los Angeles studio where Nirvana recorded Nevermind and Neil Young made After The Gold Rush. "We went through every part of every song, every note, scrutinizing the voicing of the chords, fnding melodically interesting ways to move from one chord to the next. I decided to work with a producer because I wanted the recording process to be more rigorous. Novelists have editors and playwrights workshop their drama. Tony really played that role for me on this album."
The album's surprise revelation is "Left Handed Kisses," a duet with the singular Fiona Apple. With Bird playing the skeptic and Apple the romantic, the stop-start ballad portrays two lovers who are philosophically opposed but inevitably drawn together. It feels like it could be a lost Johnny Cash/June Carter classic. "My favorite songs I write are the ones that change and adapt according to my mood," says Bird. Album-opener "Capsized" is a prime example, having been in his live repertoire for close to a decade under various titles and guises. In the album's recorded incarnation, "Capsized" is a propulsive gem evoking both the chamber-soul of Bill Withers and the backbeat of The Meters. Bird's vocals are driven onward by drummer Ted Poor and bassist Alan Hampton. The musically expansive nature of Are You Serious is due in part to ace ensemble players like Poor and Hampton, and the guitar playing of Blake Mills. "Blake raises the bar and gets where I'm coming from like few musicians I've met. He's as restless as I am and gets the odd accents and microtonal stuf that's outside western music." Jettisoning established methods begets reinvention. This is part of the great success of Are You Serious. "I never walk onstage knowing what I'm doing," says the artist. "It's a shrug-of-the-shoulders approach and people like it, it seems human to them. I began playing with the idea of reinvention, so that onstage a wild untamed thing can happen. I wanted to make a record that lets me subvert or expand my on-stage personality." A personality now ready to answer the question, Are You Serious.
"Are You Serious is Bird's first traditional album since 2012's Hands of Glorysave Echolocations and a Handsome Family covers disc, and the lolling I Want To See Pulaski at Night EP. It's deceptively straightforward at first, unfolding genially as more guitar-driven rock than he's attempted before, almost a sidestep of ambition with freewheeling frayed ends. But it's still got all of Bird's standby elementsthe esoteric wordplay, the many stratas of stringssubtly edited into economy." - Pitchfork
"Bird is an instrumental painter and Are You Serious is another adventure book in his impressively detailed series. Is anyone surprised? With a child in their lap, mothers and fathers often find themselves filling the shoes of creative, nurturing, responsible adults that they didn't necessarily believe they could be. When someone has already embodied those adjectives for decades, becoming a parent is an unwritten challenge to further round them out, and Bird somehow in a style of relaxed contentedness rose to that occasion." - Consequence Of Sound
"Given Bird's classical training and devotion to precision, his work has always had at least the potential to become bloodless and pale the work of a perfectionist who agonizes over every note, only to let his busy brain mute his own beating heart. Instead, though, his writing keeps sounding warmer, sweeter, more thoughtful and approachable, while continuing to land lines that stick with you for days." - NPR
• 120g Vinyl LP
• One of a kind album art by renowned artist John Baldessari
2. Roma Fade
3. Truth Lies Low
5. Chemical Switches
1. Left Handed Kisses
2. Are You Serious
3. Saints Preservus
4. The New Saint Jude
5. Valleys Of The Young