What separates an album of genre-fusing ambitions (Dear Science
by TV on the Radio) from a characterless jumble of sound (Pink Floyd's The Division Bell
)? TV on the Radio may incorporate everything from funk to post-punk to garage rock to soul to hip-hop to electronica, but when you listen to Dear Science
or Return to Cookie Mountain
, you know you're listening to music that only Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone could come up with. Chicago baroque pop artist Andrew Bird
never ventures into characterless territory as his classically trained musicianship and meticulous ear for detail always shines, but on his latest record, Break It Yourself
he spends (thankfully rare) moments straddling the line between a genuinely novel combination of rootsy folk/baroque pop that even non-folk fans could appreciate and potentially alienating flights of fancies and whimsy that may turn off some listeners.