The latest album by Andrew Bird titled Useless Creatures, is reflective of sounds of loneliness, heartbreak, spring, autumn, sadness and happiness all at the same time—like a pantheon of emotions. The album starts with the song “Master Sigh” and it is just that. Hauntingly beautiful it sounds like gold and brown Autumn leaves falling from the changing trees. With only two minutes of aural bliss that conjure up some Sleepy Hollow sighs mixed with what sounds like either a theremin or a saw, but is probably created by some experimental pedal work produced by this master instrument-experimentalist. I can’t really tell but it’s a sweet sound either way. Track two, “You Woke Me Up!,” feels historically avant-garde. It has an 18th century feel for some reason. Closing my eyes it’s easy to imagine I’m listening to an 18th century composer performing in a small salon of a grand house trying to go out-of-the-box to shock his peers with this seven-minute piece. You don’t really know where it’s going but it feels good.

The “The Barn Tapes” is hypnotic and sounds like the soundtrack to a horror movie at times. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it feels suspenseful and uncomfortable. It’s really complex and meanders around with out any structure but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is a different kind of experience. You can read a little about how this song was recorded in a barn and the artist process straight from Bird himself, here. “Carrion Suite” is the signature Andrew Bird type of experience with the sorrowful sound of the violin dominating the tone, feel and lead of the song. It’s more of a Baroque-style piece where you could almost picture dancers acting out a story to all the different pieces that make up the suite. Maybe someone should make one up, film it and post it to Grimy Goods—just for fun and laughs. The song “Hot Math” has more of an afro-beat feel and can be downloaded for free here.

The album ends brilliantly with a song whose title is opposite of the first track and is called “Sigh Master.” It picks up where “Master Sigh” left off and continues for another five minutes. The album is bookended by the two songs and I love the way that feels. It’s like a story book, which is a perfect description of the fun album art, that begins with “Once Upon a Time…” and finishes with “The End.”

Album experience by: Roxanne Hilburn

Artist: Andrew Bird
Album: Useless Creatures
Label: Fat Possum
Release Date: October 26, 2010