Album review: Andrew Bird - Useless Creatures

Can Bird’s latest creature fly without his powerful lyrical wings, or is it truly useless?

Previously packaged with last year’s Noble Beast as a bonus disc, Bird’s add-on is now to be judged on its own merits.

Devoid of any vocals at all from an artist renowned for his lyrical turns, Bird describes these nine tracks as an “ambient experimental record” - which it is in parts, such as the pass-you-by The Barn Tapes.

Best to look up the pieces where structure and melody remain; the poised, graceful Master Sigh that opens the album, all elongated violin notes and pre-dawn gentility, before, fittingly, You Woke Me Up sparkles with restless plucked strings and a slumbering counterpoint undertow.

Elsewhere it’s filmic and adventurous, creating and moulding mood with compositions that reinterpret west African music or mood sequences.

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Diverting, certainly, but not essential.

3 stars

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