Bright Eyes, "Make A Plan To Love Me" (YSI link)
Bright Eyes, "I Must Belong Somewhere" (YSI link)
"Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm getting soft." Bob Dylan sung those words a while back, but I think that they fit Pound for Pound now. I'm sure you might be getting worried that this site is gonna be all brooding white guy with guitar music. It won't, as we're already preparing a Return To The Bass that will blow your ear drums, make you drop your panties and offend your sensibilities. But, I can't lie to you, oh dear anonymous reader, I've been feeling a little melancholy lately as I say goodbye to someone and a whole time in my life that I never really thought would end. hat brooding music about lost love and drinking and failure and sadness is what I listen to. It may be a cliche, but so am I.
Bright Eyes, i.e. Conor Oberst, definitely fits the mould of angsty singer, discussing life, love lost and getting old. It's hard to review the albums, as his fans are so hardcore and his haters just as much, that it's hard to set up on the middle ground. I gotta be honest, I don't see how anyone can listen to his albums and not have both extreme feelings. His new one, Cassadega, is a perfect example; some songs really hit me and others leave me bored and uninspired. This one definitely sees Bright Eyes move further away from the lo-fi sound, bringing in much more instrumentation and orchestration to the mix, which doesn't bother me but may for some of his oldest fans. Like Ryan Adams, he seems to be heading more clearly into the country-roots direction. The twanging electric guitars on "I Must Belong Somewhere" sound great, providing a focused zone for Obert's great song about searching for home and belonging. It's my favorite track on the album, probably one of my favorite Bright Eyes tunes. "Make A Plan To Love Me" is another good one, a nice love song complete with female backup singers, strings and woodwinds. It's a beautiful song, sincere and earnest and heartfelt, a love song.
To bring it back to my original thoughts, I feel Oberst doesn't let himself go enough, doesn't show that heart or the pain the way that others do. He all seems too perfect and more detached than his previous efforts. As he's brought politics more into the mix, the more it seems like he's lost that pain and replaced it with anger or hokey spirituality or irony or something. Or perhaps as he's gotten better production, the mistakes and excess and humanity has gone. It's not a bad album, it's just not an album that I will turn to, especially not when I most want to listen to music. It's clearly stirred up strong opinions from me, so it seems like everyone should grab a copy and see what it does for you, good or bad. Love or hate him, Bright Eyes is someone you always have to engage.