A while back, I wrote about the way Mika's Life in Cartoon Motion appeals to both kids and grownups, and that, if he chooses his future path carefully, he might make some monumental records that cross all sorts of age boundaries.
Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs sounds like the endpoint of one of Mika's possible paths. Bird's music is intelligent, sophisticated, adventurous, and relatively fun. But he is kind of like the narrator of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince: he's a little too much like the grownups. Somewhere along the way, he lost the ability to see a sheep through the sides of a crate. Somewhere along the way, Andrew Bird must have grown old.
Bird's lyrics make him sound like either the kind of smart guy who hangs out with other smart guys and talks about smart stuff, or the kind of smart guy who soliloquizes with multisyllabic morphemes in order to prove his prodigious perspicacity. (Uh, yeah. That kind of smart guy.) Not to suggest the lyrics are bad, because most of them are quite good. But, occasionally, I'll be listening to interesting lines about threatening to be a threat or something hitting you like an act of God, when WHAM! I stumble over a word like fratricide or cephalopod. C'mon, Andrew... are you really that desperate to impress us?
The instrumentation is thick and lovely, and Bird doesn't over-reach with the music nearly as often as he does with the words. ...Eggs depends heavily on strings and organs and odd little percussion doo-dads, but it's unquestionably a rock album. Unfortunately, it's a rock album for rather intelligent grown-ups. And last time I checked, the best rock and roll in the world doesn't have age restrictions or educational requirements.
Despite what the music implies, the cover art suggests that Bird might still remember all the grandeur and magic and terror of being a kid. The artwork looks like a bad psychological episode from Dr. Seuss or Saint-Exupéry. It is bright and colorful and delightfully imaginative, yet it has a darkness that is undeniably disturbing. Each song was given its own page in the booklet, with legible lyrics and a unique piece of artwork. It's the kind of package that allows you to sit down while the CD is playing and immerse yourself in the experience of Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs.
Listen if you like: Rufus Wainwright, The Divine Comedy, Morrissey, Antony and the Johnsons, Sting
If it were food, it'd be: birthday cake with too many candles and not enough ice cream.