Every Day And Every Night
By: Eric G.
Bright Eyes is Conor Oberst’s pseudonym for a raw, emotional strain of confessional folk that pushes the levels of tolerance for the out-of-key singing trend made infamous by fellow lo-fi pioneer Will Oldham. I saw Bright Eyes live this past summer and was severely put off by Oberst’s pretentiousness. It was all so dramatic and manipulative, and the vocals were to the point of inciting laughter from the crowd they were so badly out of tune. It did not go over well to say the least. I must admit that this EP has forced me to reconsider my opinion of Bright Eyes, however. The self-indulgence seems to have a purpose on record, though the vocals can and do make my skin crawl when the ‘emotion’ gets too ‘intense.’ I can at least sense where it’s all going here, whereas in the live setting it portrayed itself as an attention-grabbing ploy (the carefully couldn’t care less attire, the ‘possessed’ rolling of the eyes, the ‘uncontrollable’ foot stomping, etc., etc.).
Oberst’s lyrics thankfully extend beyond the cliched level of a typical antisocial college student. That makes up for some of the delivery, which is hard to swallow or even sit through. Oberst sounds like a paranoid freak on the verge of a serious breakdown. His voice trembles even in the quiter parts with a constant, uncontrollable vibratto. The music is delicately played and beautiful even. Oberst is a fine guitar player, and songs like “A Line Allows Progress, A Circle Does Not” and “A Perfect Sonnet” show an amazing gift for memorable songcraft. This EP incorporates loops, organs, violins, samples, and percussion into the otherwise stark mix. Oberst can really sing when he wants to, which makes the affected bits seem somewhat suspicious, but I guess that’s his whole deal- losing himself in the moment and not caring about trivialities like pitch or key. The loner lo-fi thing has been done, but Oberst has honestly carved out a new subgenre all his own.