“Break It Yourself” is a hit-and-miss affair, but one that at least tends to subjugate Bird’s sillier ideas behind a collection of tuneful contemplations on love and longing. “Danse Carribe,” with its jazzy time signatures, loping pace and pastoral imagery, recalls Van Morrison in full on “Astral Weeks” mode, gradually spinning an elliptical narrative over a bed of acoustic guitar and light orchestration. “Fatal Shore” sounds similar but not as compelling: a rote endeavor into indie melancholy featuring funereal drums, female harmonies and, inevitably, a whistling solo.
Bird often fares best when demonstrably exiting his comfort zone. “Eyeoneye” stomps pleasingly through its inscrutable lyrics on the strength of an ersatz Beach Boys melody. The album’s final track, “Belles,” is three minutes of feedback-laden atmosphere resembling John Cale’s most attractive experimentation. Coming at the end of an hour’s worth of frequently too-baroque arrangements, “Belles” is a lovely exercise in restraint. It’s also a fittingly enigmatic finale for an album on which Bird continues to vacillate between adventurous artist and NPR comfort food.
Bird will perform at 9:30 Club on May 8.
“Danse Carribe,” “Eyeoneye,” “Belles”