Thursday, January 27, 2005

Turn on the Bright Eyes

There are few more prolific song-writers than Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. Not only does he fill up the time between recording albums with various EPs and guest appearances, but this week he releases two completely different albums; "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" and "Digital Ash in a Digital Urn". The former is more in the style of his earlier work, with country twangs, tales of travelling, while the latter, as its title suggests, is a move in the direction of electronica, fusing his unique songwriting style and his organic influences with synthesisers and creating a beautiful landscaped sound.

It'd be very easy to hate Conor Oberst. Young? Check. Handsome? Check. Painstakingly talented? Check Check. But these albums make you forget any envy you may have - their sheer perfectness, makes you forget everything. "I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning" sweeps you off to the golden Nebraskan cornfields, takes you on a trip down the open highway with all your belongings tied up in a few old cases. His desparation is so prominent in his work, as is his self-awareness, and how he is ever conscious of the thin line between mediocrity and genius. Lyrically, this is his most accomplished to date, and that is saying something. The reviews are almost unanimous in asserting its classic-in-the-waiting status. The Dylan comparisons are frequent, but don't be put off. This album is truly special and Conor is a bonafide genius. Buy this album and let yourself be swept away.

"Digital Ash in a Digital Urn" is a less immediate affair. This is his first step away from his tradional approach to the musical side of things and takes a little more time to appreciate. Reviews have been less favourable, probably because its beauty is not instant and people want to find something to fault in Oberst's ability. But give this album a chance - it works in different ways than can usually be expected from Bright Eyes. The landscape of sounds created fuse magically with the lyrical content and the focus is on creating an overall atmosphere, rather than just the pure emotions of the lyrical matter. Even after five listens it is revealing more and more layers. Both of the albums clearly have a lot of CD-player mileage and deserve to be a part of many many CD collections.

posted by Robbie de Santos at 1/27/2005 12:37:00 am


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