“My Finest Work Yet” lives up to its name

Andrew Bird has released his 15th studio album, “My Finest Work Yet”. The title has hints of over confidence considering every artist believes their latest work is their best yet. Nevertheless, it is a title well deserved as Birds vocals, instrumentals, and sound truly makes the album his finest work yet.

“My Finest Work Yet” is Bird’s most political album to date, with the song “Bloodless” being written and recorded in the days between the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and the 2016 election. The six and a half minute song is a calm and bluesy call to action. With a strong percussion and piano accompaniment, Bird encourages listeners to take action against those who have “lost their conviction,” referencing the lack of action against those who gain their power from division.

Despite the heavy and impactful lyrics, the album still retains a sense of optimism. The song “Sisyphus” describes an aspect of the greek myth of the same name. The myth describes a king named Sisyphus who is doomed to spend eternity pushing a boulder up a mountain only for it to fall and roll back down the mountain upon nearing the top. The song itself refers to the pensive moment Sisyphus has as he watches the rock roll down the mountain and contemplates the uselessness of his labors. The song opens with a chorus of Bird’s signature whistling and then opens up into a 70’s rock and roll reminiscent track with a thumping bass and a soulful acoustic piano. The song “Fallorun” refers to the surrender of activists, “we could have been together here but you couldn’t stand the weather here” all the while keeping a hopeful and cheerful beat. “Olympians” lures the listener in with its anthemic sound and strings while highlighting the “anathemas” in today’s news coverage and social media before bursting into a chorus that can be compared to the catchy summertime hits of the late 60s.

“Proxy War” opens with militaristic style drumming, courtesy of percussionist Ted Poor, which remains throughout the song. Combined with a series of carefree guitar, “Proxy War” creates an imagery of the Cold War era. The airy-sounding “Manifest” describes the drain on humanity’s natural resources, “Tendrils still digging/ for everything that once walked this earth once living/ then to be exhumed and burned to vapor” and the lack of action being taken to prevent it “don’t pretend you can’t hear.” “Don The Struggle” has the same militaristic style drumming as “Proxy War”. The song gradually builds in intensity before reaching its climax with a quick paced piano and an infectious rhythm. The climax is by far the most optimistic sounding part of the song but it also holds its most powerful message, “clinging to the thread of the notion that your fight is a righteous one.” Bird ends by saying “You know they say that what you reap you sow/ You’re welcome, enjoy the mess but now I’m done” which refers back to a line earlier in the song “And it’s the young ones that I fear for/Forgive us we know not what we’ve done.”

“My Finest Work Yet” was recorded live-to-tape and when the cheerfulness comes to a hold in “Cracking Codes,” Bird’s vocals really shine. “Cracking Codes” is a soulful ballad in which the emotion of Bird’s voice pulls through the speakers through a series of drawn out harmonies and even more whistling. “Archipelago” is another of the albums slower songs and opens by asking the listener a question “what if one day we just refused to play?” followed by “with no one to hate they’d be out of a job” referring to the negativity and hatred that encapsulates large amounts of today’s media. The song features another promote feature of Bird’s music, the violin. The somber violin combined with Bird’s soulful vocals allows the song’s message against hatred and isolation to ring out and resonate with the listener.

The album concludes with “Bellevue Bridge Club.” A jazzy and vocally strong conclusion which rather than offering an insight into Birds perspective on the world it offers a warning, no matter how much someone attempts to run or hide from it, pain and suffering will always find them, “by any means necessary.” A pessimistic outlook for an album built upon the belief that things can get better with attention and effort.