Appropriately enough, Noble Beast, the latest recording by Chicagos Andrew Bird (on tour with Loney, Dear), boasts some notably avian moments: Fitz and the Dizzyspells is among the tracks that feature whistling, and Masterswarm includes simulated birdsong that may or may not have been created by a theremin. But Bird doesnt treat these elements as aural novelties. Rather, theyre incorporated in a sound design thats often busy but never feels overcrowded. The melodies lope along breezily, requesting attention instead of demanding it, and Bird seldom raises his voice. He warbles far more often than he belts, rightfully confident in the allure of subtlety, and his lyrics display a verbosity and intellectual curiosity befitting song titles such as Tenuousness and Nomenclature. Not that his material is entirely benign. Although he declares in Oh, No that we are harmless sociopaths, his tunes are more than capable of leaving a mark and of taking flight.
Thu., Feb. 26, 8 p.m., 2009