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Andrew Bird Breaks Down New Album Inside Problems Track by Track: Exclusive

Bird found inspiration in complexities, thresholds, and Joan Didion

Andrew Bird Inside Problems
Photo by David Black
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    Our feature series Track by Track allows artists to run through every song on their newest release. Today, Andrew Bird breaks down his latest album, Inside Problems.


    Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Andrew Bird returns today (June 3rd) with his newest full-length LP, Inside Problems. Inspired by complex thoughts awoken by silence and the idea of thresholds, Bird looks to offer wisdom on the lush 11 tracks.

    Bird has always remained busy. Prolific in his artistic output, whatever form that may take, he seems to have an unquenchable thirst to create. Preceded by 2019’s My Finest Work Yet, 2020’s holiday-themed Hark!, and 2021’s collaborative These 13, Inside Problems marks Bird’s fourth album in as many years. In the same time period, he’s also taken up acting (check out his performance in Season 4 of Fargo), scored a Judd Apatow film, and nabbed his first Grammy nod.

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    Of course, at least in the last two years, his workload existed within the confines of the pandemic. Even as Bird continued to work, he faced moments of isolation, stillness, and silence — just like all of us. New questions and interests came as a result: the complexities of it all, the thresholds of categorization, and, of course, Joan Didion.

    “You just don’t know what’s under the surface, be it the land, the sea, our skin. You could be whistling away, projecting contentedness, when really there’s a swirling twisted mess underneath,” Bird tells Consequence. “Looking up, there’s the knowable universe but unless you get into astrology, you’ll find the stars don’t owe us anything.”

    As usual, Bird is ambitiously tackling some grand ideas. To get to the heart of these questions, Consequence connected with Bird for exclusive insight into the songs on Inside Problems. Check out the album below, followed by Bird’s full Track by Track breakdown.

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    Bird is also gearing up for his first full-band tour in nearly three years, which he will co-headline with Iron & Wine. Grab tickets here.


    “Underlands”:
    You just don’t know what’s under the surface, be it the land, the sea, our skin. You could be whistling away, projecting contentedness, when really there’s a swirling, twisted mess underneath. Looking up, there’s the knowable universe, but unless you get into astrology, you’ll find the stars don’t owe us anything and you’re left less assured than when we thought gods threw down lightning bolts. “Underlands” introduces an album that deals with the unseen underneath and the membrane that separates your outside problems from your inside problems.

    “Lone Didion”:
    I’m close with someone who used to be the Hostess at a New York restaurant where Joan Didion and her husband were regulars. They came in one Saturday in December 2003. Then some weeks passed, and she came in alone and ordered the usual. This was the time she chronicled in the year of magical thinking when she lost both her husband and her daughter. I couldn’t hear this story and read the book and not write a song about it.

    “Fixed Positions”:
    Unless you make a major effort to break from routine and get a different perspective, as you get older, you are destined to become more and more conservative, paranoid, and xenophobic. So, let’s not let that happen, ok?

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    “Inside Problems”:
    Most animals go through some kind of molting process. I’m convinced I do as well. It’s not very pleasant and it’s more psychological than physical, but when it’s done, I feel pretty damn good.

    “The Night Before Your Birthday”:
    My version of a love song. Have a listen to “Certainty” by Big Thief after listening to this song and then we’ll discuss.

    “Make a Picture”:
    WTF just happened? The last 3 years: pandemic, uprising, insurrection. How do you tell the story for yourself and others based on these snapshots in your memory?

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    “Atomized”:
    “I had dealt directly and flatly with the evidence of atomization, the proof that things fall apart.” — Joan Didion, 1967

    Didion was updating WB Yeats for the fractious ’60s, this song takes it to the pixelated present where it’s not just society that is getting atomized, but the self that is being broken apart and scattered.

    “Faithless Ghost”:
    Kind of the outlier here. Inspired by John Cale’s “Paris 1919” (that date keeps coming up). The coy ghost that never shows up when you want it to. Hmm.

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    “Eight”:
    I like this numberm

    “Stop n’ Shop”:
    Guns, walls, trucks, obelisks, horse, and rider. If you need these things to feel whole, then there’s something terribly wrong.

    “Never Fall Apart”:
    Attempt at answering the question posed by “Stop n’ Shop.”

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