Don’t overthink the satirically meta title of Andrew Bird’s latest album: this really is the finest work he’s ever produced.
As the twelfth studio album in Andrew Bird’s solo career, My Finest Work Yet refines and polishes the neo-jazz essence that he’s been rooted in for over two decades. Historic Andrew Bird fans need not worry; the collection is decorated with his typical shtick. Fluttering pianos and a gorgeous string section are only occasionally interrupted by Bird plucking the strings of his violin like a guitar and using his keen whistling ability as if it’s another instrument in his repertoire. He focuses on beauty rather than boisterousness, sucking audiences in with instrumentals more conducive to a ballroom dance than a head-banging mosh.
After a career sprinkled with political sentiment, it may come as a surprise to some that My Finest Work Yet is Andrew Bird’s first full-length collection entirely focused on the current political climate. Sure, Bird has made unmistakable jabs over the past few decades at basic societal flaws like our nation’s tenuousness towards charity or the our reluctance regarding acceptance and community. However, My Finest Work Yet departs from these casual social inquiries for something more consequential. Instead, it acts as more of a vessel for revolution, inciting movement rather than feckless thought.
Track by track, the revolutionary language Bird uses is very explicit and very liberal. He begins the album with “Sisyphus”, an action-oriented ballad imploring that “history forgets the moderates” and that the listeners should “take my hand, we’ll claim this land.” He elaborates furthers on the urgency of his unrest in the following track “Bloodless”, illustrating that the social unrest following the 2016 election has led to what he views as “an uncivil war, bloodless for now”. He goes on to identify this war further as a “Proxy War”, aka a war instigated by a major power which does not itself become involved, in this case the implying the United States administration is pitting middle America against the coastal elite.
Whether or not you agree with his rather liberal outlook and unambiguous language, it’s clear that Andrew Bird’s insurgent mindset emboldened him create an album that deliberately sounds more inspiring than anything he’s ever released. At the very least, My Finest Work Yet is meant to incite a line of questioning similar to that of a renaissance. The album art, title, and theme, and general aesthetic want nothing more than for Bird’s audience to question their manifest destiny in the most energizing, artistic, and outspoken way possible.
Favorite Tracks: Manifest, Fallorun, Proxy War, Cracking Codes, Bloodless, Archipelago