Thursday, January 12, 2006

Preface to the Two-day Anniversary Edition of Tim Fawkes' entry entitled "Tim's Top One Album of 2005."

I wrote this for the Second (day) anniversary printing of Tim Fawkes's landmark essay from 2006, reviewing Andrew Bird's album, "The Mysterious Production of Eggs." If you haven't read it yet, I recommend doing so first.

Tim introduced me to this album back in aught-5. Oh yes, we were heady young fools then, but Tim was always the most visionary amongst us. He put on the album - beautiful! but not too sappy, the beat keeps moving! Then, he pulled out the booklet by Jay Ryan, which made me kind of stop listening to the music. Sorry. Seriously, you should check out the booklet. Jay Ryan is very well known, in my opinion, in Chicago. I’m not sure if he has much larger exposure, but I feel confident that he will. His work captures a perfect balance of art and cute, motion and weight. And they’re silk screens!

Tim, being the kind and generous soul that he unfailingly is, promptly copied the music album for me. Like many great albums, this one waited patiently for months inside my small white poddy. In Tim's classic treatise on Bird, he mentions that "Skin Is, My" first caught his attention. For me, it was "Fake Palindromes." This song is so good and so catchy, it makes it easy to ignore all of the other songs on the album. It begins with a bollywood-esque wailing melody of violin and tambourine. From there, like “Skin Is, My” (and like most of the other songs), it grows and changes, sampling a bit from rock, folk, anything, but never entirely abandoning the original tone set by those catchy violins. Another big plus is the phrase “Monsters will walk the earth.” As Tim mentioned, even if you’re not a lyrics person – which I’m generally not – these will catch your attention.

Overall, “The Mysterious Production of Eggs” suffers challenges that many good albums do – namely, the required time and patience to grow and open up to the listener. This is not to say that the new listener can’t appreciate the album; however, in order to understand what makes it so good, and in order to fully etch it into the brain, multiple whole-album listenings are required. Without them, it would be too easy to classify this album as “really pretty” or “kind of slow.” After properly ageing, “too pretty” becomes “rich instrumentation”; “kind of slow” becomes “cohesively developed.” This is not an album, in my opinion, to put on, skip to a few songs, then scroll ahead to “My Hump.” As trite as this sounds, listening to “Eggs” is like Bird reading you a story. You need to get tucked into bed, be cozy and ready to listen to Bird spin his yarns in words and music. It’s not a concept album, by any means, but it’s an album whose growth and evolution overall mirrors that of each song. I’d recommend listening to it a few times when you’re alone for the evening. Then it will come to you.


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