One caution must be shared with those expecting Bird's return to the traditional Hot Jazz of his early days with the Squirrel Nut Zippers, this album may turn out disappointing for them. Not because it lack remarkable merit but because Bird's eggs are in search of new baskets, if you pardon the obvious pun. As he began to prove, partially in Swimming Hour and even more so in Weather Systems, Andrew Bird has a lot more to say and more genres to explore and enrich. As good as his early work is, The Mysterious Production of Eggs, although a departure, is a remarkable work. Mature, daring, yet far from the half-baked albums you may be used to expect when an artist dares to experiments with a winning formula. The best way to describe the new output is that it reveals a more tender and brooding musical vision than past recordings, although not devoid of sharp edges. Songs like "Tables and Chairs" and "Measuring Cups" are good examples of this, where the strings remain exquisite, or the lyrics distill a quiet sarcasm ("RX Missiles") yet their melodies visit new territories. From the whispered Folk of "Sovay" to the Badly Drawn Boy-like Pop of "Opposite Day," Bird pushes the envelope of what he's done before. Actually, a comparison with Damon Gough seems fitting here. Although I would not claim that their songs will remind you of one another's, I was struck by a similar willingness they both show for not resting on their musical laurels. Whether you have not heard this man or you mourn that recent albums are not what you used to enjoy, this is an excellent album by an artist who takes chances and follows his heart ... as any real artist would. Think of it as one the early jewels of 2005.