Break It Yourself
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.