Seafaring Fiddler. Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself.

The latest in an unremitting stream of highly nuanced, spasmodically neo-classical outpour from Chicago's baroque pop polymath Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself is a record that waltzes to the forefront of piqued intrigue with graceful style yet barely a solitary peep of fanfare.

Opener Desperation Breeds... emerges amid a soft flurry of harp-like plucks and aqueous vox, sounding like a coral reef murmuring sweet nothings before a more finely tuned acoustic swell permeates wispy introductions previous. It's proceeded, quite peculiarly, by the atmospheric hum and violin swill of unfathomable interlude Polynation before we're swept into a calm and landlocked corner by the Warren Ellis-esque strings of the vibrant Danse Carribe. The enveloping narrative surreality that tickles the hazy thud of Lazy Projector adds to an already-sentient parallel with The Shins, Bird's prickly brogue akin to James Mercer's grizzled croon while Sifters rocks to the roll of an infinity of afternoons gazing out across serene waters from the window of Minehead's fustiest of retirement homes, its author pining to be regaled with "all the stories from when you were young and in your prime".

Near Death Experience Experience, a track with a title to befuddle even the most highly praised and endorsed word processors, treads along the lines lightly trampled into Patagonian territories by Gruff Rhys with far heftier downward force, as if the estranged SFA had been hellbent on re-envisaging Come As You Are in place of scrounging about for lost relatives. Its intriguingly philosophical lyrical content reverberating around the implausible production of a pill to emulate this 'near death experience' in order that "survivors" appreciate the divine worth of life resuscitates this dormant sense of the surreal, and could verisimilitudinously be applied to the 'experiencing' of any one of the innumerable dodgy boluses thrown down the hatch on any one night in the capital. The marine waft of Hole in the Ocean Floor sees Bird drift back to the thematically thalassic and, alas, glides with the guileless indecision of a message ensnared in pea-green bottle; meanwhile Orpheo Looks Back is perky to the point where you wind up sadistically longing for the indefatigable fiddler to fall through the roof. Thus Bird, as per, soars highest when cloaked in a viscous, unshakable cafard and, when smothered in such a state, concocts perhaps his finest guitar line since that which propelled Heretics to such great apogees as adverts in the gently discomposed Fatal Shore. Although you'd perhaps not elect Break It Yourself within the parameters of the intrinsically restricting Desert Island Discs series, it's far from one to go hurling out to sea either.