Break It Your­self

The Washington Times Daily - - Life -

An­drew Bird

If Bruce Spring­steen’s al­bum sounds like mod­ern Amer­ica, then An­drew Bird’s new­est re­lease, “Break It Your­self,” sounds like Pa­le­o­zoic-era Pan­gaea trans­ported to the 21st cen­tury.

Amer­i­can, Euro­pean and African tra­di­tions all share equal space on these songs, which blur the lines be­tween cul­ture and genre. “Danse Caribe” be­gins with Caribbean in­stru­ments and evolves into a twangy hoe­down. “Or­pheo Looks Back” kicks off with a man­dolin riff be­fore a fid­dle swoops into the mix, turn­ing what be­gan as a quiet Amer­i­cana tune into an el­e­gant, keen­ing Celtic folk song.

Don’t mis­take this for world mu­sic. It’s for­ward-think­ing in­die rock aimed at those who trav­eled abroad dur­ing col­lege. And, lest any­one think he’s tak­ing him­self too se­ri­ously, Mr. Bird fills the al­bum with goofy, tongue-twist­ing lyrics and plenty of light­hearted whistling. He brings oth­ers into the project, too, work­ing with a full band for the first time in years.

Still, “Break It Your­self” isn’t al­ways forth­right with its charms. It’s dense, lay­ered with small de­tails that only re­veal them­selves af­ter mul­ti­ple lis­tens, and only a hand­ful of songs (in­clud­ing “Give It Away” and the gor­geous “Lusi­ta­nia”) boast the kind of mar­ketable melodies that re­main in your head af­ter the al­bum has run its course. For those who take time to learn its tricks, though, “Break It Your­self” proves to be not so bro­ken, af­ter all.

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