Listen Up: Andrew Bird, Kaiser Chiefs
This week in music
By Edna Gundersen, Elysa Gardner, Steve Jones and Jerry Shriver, USA TODAYMarch 5, 2012
The Chicago-based singer/songwriter follows 2009's acclaimed Noble Beast with an equally swoon-worthy set of rapturous tunes that bristle with embraceable eccentricities. Strings, acoustic guitars, whistles and his breezy tenor are layered into tidy arrangements that lean into folk, pop, jazz, tropical and country. He still favors lyrical fuzziness, but takes a clearer tack on Lusitania, a cozy duet with Annie Clark of St. Vincent.
Brevity is the soul of wit, and whimsy, on this latest effort from Magnetic Fields. Fifteen synth-driven tunes clock in at under three minutes each, tackling subjects from romance to abstinence to serial adultery to contract murder with breezy pop savvy. These are hardly the most compelling songs that creative frontman Stephin Merritt has written, but Love works nicely as a bittersweet, occasionally creepy diversion.