Drifting pleasantly through the US charts and branches of Starbucks, 2009's Noble Beast was a deserved commercial breakthrough for Andrew Bird – a record whose strangeness and complexity you could easily miss. Much the same is true of its successor. A deeper current of sadness runs through tracks such as "Desperation Breeds" and "Lazy Projector" and Bird's husky tenor is, at times, only incidental to the album's carefully assembled collages of sound – swirls of violin, acoustic guitar, gently brushed drums, his high, fluting whistle. But Bird conducts his experiments with the lightest of touches: his ingenuity matched by a gift for simple, lilting melodies.
Ally Carnwath writes on Africa and music for the Guardian and Observer