"Knowing that you're going to be with someone for a long time definitely changes [the way you write], often because you're sitting in the same room with them as you're writing, and when you're sitting on the couch and you know it's not going to last, you might ... have to ... encrypt ... things. And when you don't have to do that anymore it might change your writing in that sense."
Fiona Apple was his first choice to appear on the single "Left Handed Kisses", and he contacted her through mutual friends. The track's recording session was, according to Bird, "a long whiskey-fueled night."
Are You Serious was announced on February 5, 2016, following an appearance on Conan in which Bird performed the single "Capsized." A deluxe box set of the album will also include a 10" record called Are We Not Burning? The Devolution of Capsized 10", which features five additional tracks. The music video for single "Left Handed Kisses", directed by Phil Andelman, was released on March 14, 2016, and features Bird and Apple sitting by a window and singing to each other.
Are You Serious received generally favourable reviews from music critics, with a score of 78 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.NPR's Bob Boilen described Are You Serious as Bird's most personal album to date, writing that "Andrew Bird's lyrics are often a kind of cryptic code, wordplay about the human condition, but on Are You Serious he reveals more about his own life including a blossoming relationship between two relative introverts and the birth of their son."NPR's Stephen Thompson wrote that, with this album, Bird's songwriting "keeps sounding warmer, sweeter, more thoughtful and approachable, while continuing to land lines that stick with you for days." Philip Cosores, writing for The A.V. Club, gave the album a lukewarm review, describing it as a slight effort on which Bird "takes no musical risks."