Album: Andrew Bird, Noble Beast, (Bella Union)

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The Independent Culture

Birdwatchers rejoice – the familiar markings are all here: pizzicato violins, whistling, linguistic gymnastics.

This time, though, the orchestrator-in-chief has remembered to add the showbiz songs to the show-off skills. "Oh No" is as contagious as anything in the charts, in spite of a chorus built around the line "Arm in arm with all the harmless sociopaths". Bird blends Stéphane Grappelli with Simon and Garfunkel to come up with a thinking-person's pop as enchanting as, say, Joanna Newsom.

Pick of the album: The dazzling and daunting 'Master Swarm'

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