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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as Odd but more Uneven, 14 May 2007
By 
Sordel (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
When your principal instruments are violin, glockenspiel and whistling, you can be entitled to have an idiosyncratic approach to songwriting. Having recorded three albums taking in swing, jazz and rock `n' roll with his band, Bowl of Fire, Andrew Bird has moved into more restrained singer-songwriter territory with his solo albums. Armchair Apocrypha is the latest entry in that series, and the result is probably his most commercial (and, sadly, his least enthralling) album so far.

Laconic, knowing, inventive, clever ... Bird plays initially to the same audience as Rufus Wainwright, imbuing his songs with a world-weariness that is nicely undercut by his ear for melodic lines. Why, then, does he include two songs in the first three that sound like conventional guitar-driven alternative pop? "Fiery Crash" and "Plasticities" (sandwiching a song that, while strong, is a reworking of one from Bird's earlier Weather Systems album) make for a poor introduction to the new album. If commercial considerations have influenced the programming, then they have not necessarily been thought through.

With "Heretics" things settle down to a more familiar pattern, with Bird's violin taking centre stage. Things improve further with "Armchair", a long central ballad that is this album's most convincing track. The textures, built on gently revolving sounds (Bird is no stranger to the loop sampler), provide a suitably aquatic medium for a striking lyric gently supported by piano doubling. One is forcibly reminded of Rufus, not least in the fact that the brief guitar figure seems to ape the opening bar of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".

Later tracks - especially the instrumentals "The Supine" and the strikingly-entitled "Yawny at the Apocalypse" - are familiar Bird territory, which existing fans will enjoy and new listeners may find revelatory. For me, the anthemic "Cataracts" (an exquisitely sad ballad) was a slow burner, and there are details to enjoy in these songs: not least the lyrics, whose dramatic alternations between the surreal and the self-consciously poetic bear comparison with those of Joanna Newsom.

At first I found this album disappointing and it is only with repeated listening that its subtleties have become clearer. Nevertheless, new listeners should probably head to The Mysterious Production of Eggs to discover Bird's unquestionable brilliance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the Year, 2 Dec. 2007
By 
Alan Roberts (Paris) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
I was lucky enough to stumble across some Andrew Bird stuff this year and boy am I glad. For me, it's probably the best album I've heard since 'Gold' (the Ryan Adams Gold that is; not Abba Gold. Mind you, it's very good too).
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From a new fan, 31 Aug. 2007
By 
layla (England, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
Although I know Andrew Bird's been around for a while, this is the first album that I've bought of his. His previous work didn't really appeal to me in the past (I have to admit, I had only listened to a couple of his songs though). Then I heard "Heretics" and I was instantly hooked. I had to purchase the album and I'm glad I did, 'cos this album doesn't disappoint. Plasticities is actually one of my favourites, along with Heretics, Armchairs and Cataracts. I now plan to purchase the rest of his back catalogue.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and Beguiling, 12 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
Sublime songs are on show here with a variety of instruments. Having seen him play live I'm a convert. This interesting collection of melodic tunes featuring violin, guitar, keys and percussion stays with you. This comes highly recommended along with the previous album ' The Mysterious Production of Eggs'
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5.0 out of 5 stars TIMELESS ALBUM, 7 Jun. 2010
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This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
This is one of those timeless albums that over time you can return to enjoy as if for the first time. Essential if you love good music, compositions and string arrangements are truly magnificent. One of the best albums recorded in this decade
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4.0 out of 5 stars Listen, not just once...., 3 Dec. 2011
This review is from: Armchair Apocrypha (Audio CD)
Music that is low key, but intense, needing you to engage, listen several times, and the details get clearer every time. Not for the dance floor, maybe, but definitely worth digging into.
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Armchair Apocrypha
Armchair Apocrypha by Andrew Bird (Audio CD - 2007)
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